What is the result of death or major medical treatment from a workers' compensation claim?

Death benefits and major medical treatments need to be dealt with carefully to make sure that the amount of money that the family receives as a result of the death or major medical treatment is maximized.

Death Benefits
In the event that an employee is killed on the job, the family of that employee is entitled to death benefits. Those death benefits are wage benefits that will, at least in part, replace the loss of income as a result of death of the employee.

Medical Treatment
There also is a good bit of controversy regarding the provision of medical treatment to injured workers. Typically, the medical treatment is controlled by the employer or the employer's insurĀ­ance carrier. This means that the employee receives treatment from doctors who have been chosen by the insurance carrier or the employer. These doctors obviously know who is paying their bill and they know that the insurance carrier and the employer expect this employee to return to work at some point in time so that their financial exposure in paying wage benefits is limited.

Although these doctors generally provide quality medical care for the injured employee, they have a somewhat mixed loyalty. They know that the employer and the insurance company want this employee to return to work, but they also know that it is not necessarily always in the employee's interest to return to work too quickly or even to return to that form of work at all.

Complex Injuries
The law relating to workers' compensation coverage can become extremely complex when dealing with issues of occupational disease. The run-of-the-mill, on-the-job injury in which an employee falls and breaks an ankle does not involve a great deal of controversy. However, the claim of the employee who over a period of time develops, for example, carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of typing at the keyboard, is harder to classify as being a result of the employment. Different states have dealt with that issue in a variety of ways. Some states provide coverage for these types of repetitive stress injuries or exposure injuries; other states do not.

Another area of significant controversy in regard to workers' compensation claims is compensation for emotional injuries. In some states, an employee who suffers, for example, a nervous breakdown because of emotional stress on the job may be entitled to the whole range of benefits under the workers' compensation system. Other states have denied those types of benefits on the theory that the relationship between employment and emotional injury is simply too tenuous and therefore the employer should not be made to bear the burden of the expense associated with that type of injury.

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