What Happens If You’re Unable to Work after an Injury?

The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act & Expert Help

The reality of dealing with a serious injury can have emotional, physical, and financial repercussions. If you are unable to work after an injury, there may be a variety of job-retraining and career-counseling programs available. Under the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Act, there is job retraining that remains accessible to the injured worker for their entire lifetime, regardless of whether or not they resolve their case. You also can seek guidance by working with vocational and job training experts who can make suggestions about certain positions for which you may be suitable. Vocational experts help assess the resulting needs of the injured party. Economic experts calculate the vocational expertise and make projections regarding what a person will be capable of doing. Financial experts can help forecast what someone’s financial future looks like, and what their needs are going to be. Economic and noneconomic evaluations are essential to include in a case analysis and validation.

In addition to vocational and economic experts, working with a network of life planners and nurse case managers to help analyze medical records and doctor’s instructions can be essential. Working closely with life care planners, nurse case managers, vocational experts, and financial experts is fundamental to properly developing the case. These steps are necessary to calculate lost earning capacity and to help guide and advise an injured party who is unable to work.

Government Assistance

When a person has been injured, the whole family structure must be taken into consideration. If the injured party is the sole provider for a family, then sources of income sufficient for a continuance of financial support will need to be identified.  The problems differ in terms of magnitude and the immediacy of the need. The availability of family resources should also be considered. There are governmental programs that may come into play, such as social security disability, Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicaid is a federally-subsidized state program that provides welfare benefits, food stamps, and medical care in instances where a family or person does not qualify for social security disability or Medicare. Unfortunately, there are instances where none of those programs are going to be immediately available or adequate.

It should also be noted that arrangements can be made to assist with transportation while property damage claims or auto accident claims are dealt with. For example, services such as Meals on Wheels and various social services programs may be available for a person in need.

To learn more about available resources if you are unable to work after an injury and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our free pocket guide!

Personal Injury Case vs. Workers’ Compensation Case

PERSONAL INJURY CASE VS. WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASE

It is important to understand the fundamental basis for personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims in order to distinguish between the two. The most important difference is that a personal injury claim is based on the fault of one party, whereas a workers’ compensation case does not require a finding of fault. In order to recover damages against someone in a personal injury case such as a car accident, a slip and fall, a medical mistake, or any type of negligence action, a party must be at fault. For workers’ compensation, the claim exists regardless of wrongdoing or fault. For example, if someone stumbles in the hallway at work and breaks their leg, no one is at fault for the fall. However, since it occurred in the course of that person’s employment, it will be covered as a workers’ compensation claim.

Personal Injury Claims

A personal injury claim is the result of someone’s negligent act, and these claims are governed by the principles of tort law. A standard of care is necessary for almost every instance. Once the established standard of care has been breached and harm results, a personal injury claim may arise. Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act states that the employer remains responsible for any injury or harms that occur in the course of someone’s employment, regardless of fault.

A personal injury claim is governed in large part by what we refer to as common law. Typically, common law is a duty that society, through the process of life experience and courts entertaining different kinds of controversies over the years, establishes what is considered reasonable conduct. Most unreasonable or negligent conduct can give rise to a breach of a duty of care that a court will acknowledge, recognize, and enforce. This is true whether someone is driving inappropriately, failing to maintain their property, engaging in certain types of conduct, or failing to engage in conduct that is appropriate under the circumstances.

A personal injury case is a claim for monetary damages and is prompted by a breach of a duty of care that was owed to the injured party. It is different from a workers’ compensation claim in the sense that a workers’ compensation claim is regulated by statute, and there does not need to be a violation of a duty of care or negligence.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to accomplish several things. A workers’ compensation claim is intended to provide immediate support, medical, and wage indemnity for an injured worker. A personal injury claim generally usually involves getting the compensation at the end of the process, whether it is one or several years later. The injured party is not going to have any immediate financial compensation, where a workers’ compensation claim can provide this in the meantime.

How Is My Claim Handled if I Sustain an Injury at Work and I also have a Claim for Negligence?

It is often the case that individuals who have been hurt at work also have a separate personal injury claim arising from the same accident. This is known as a third-party claim, because an additional party is legally responsible for the injured worker’s accident. The workers’ compensation claim is obvious, but being aware of a third-party claim may not be so obvious to the injured worker. They may have been injured in a motor vehicle accident while working, or perhaps they fell in someone’s broken stairwell while making a work-related delivery. A workers’ compensation claim may be very valuable in its own right, but there may be good reason to pursue a separate personal injury claim.

There are damages that can be compensated in a third-party personal injury case that are otherwise not compensable in a workers’ compensation claim. Having both claims pursued together will provide you with the proper level of protection. For instance, if you have a partial loss of earning capacity, then you are going to be limited in your workers’ compensation claim to getting a completely full recompense for that loss. However, you may be able to obtain the necessary compensation through a third-party personal injury claim.

There are restrictions on the amount of partial loss earning capacity that you will be paid for under the workers’ compensation rules. Certain damages, such as pain and suffering (or in some cases, scarring) can be compensated in a third-party case but not in a workers’ compensation claim.

It is often necessary that an injured worker retain a law firm that can handle both the workers’ compensation case and the companion third-party personal injury case, should there be one. In this way, they will have a concerted effort working to coordinate the best possible outcome in each potential claim.

In Summary:

  • Personal Injury Claim
    • Based on the fault of one party
    • Result of someone’s negligent act
  • Workers’ Compensation Case
    • Does not require a finding of fault
    • The claim exists regardless of wrongdoing or fault
  • Third-Party Claim
    • Additional party is legally responsible for the injured worker’s accident
    • Workers’ compensation and also another separate claim personal injury claim arising from the same accident.

To learn more about workers’ compensation cases and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book Download

Workers’ Compensation Cases in CT

Worker’s Compensation Cases

Working men and women are the backbone of Connecticut’s economy. Connecticut boasts a diverse workforce that makes it the place we love to call home. Our State cannot survive without its hardworking citizens; the law recognizes this.  When a worker is hurt on the job; paying compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disability are the responsibility of the employer, as stipulated by Connecticut law. You do not have to “sue” your employer. Injured workers are entitled to be on equal footing with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.  You are entitled to be represented by your own attorney, who will work hard to make sure that your benefits are paid properly and timely, and that pitfalls are avoided.

 What Is “Workers’ Compensation”?

Connecticut’s Workers’ Compensation Act has been the law for almost a century.  It recognizes your value to the state economy, your town, and your family. The law protects all people who have been hurt while working, either from a sudden event, an injury that comes from repetitive actions, or an illness caused by the work you do.

Your employer must;

  • cover all related medical costs.
  • Pay a good portion of your lost wages (using the statutory formula).
  • Make an additional payment if you suffer a permanent disability.

Unless you hurt the same part of your body again in a new accident, this protection by your employer (through their insurance company) lasts your whole life.  If an injury takes a workers’ life, the law requires that a surviving spouse and/or dependent children receive the workers’ benefits.

Understanding CT’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

Connecticut’s workers’ compensation laws can be complicated.  These laws continue to change.  Rules and procedures that you or your friends may remember from past compensation cases could very well have changed. If you have been hurt on the job and are filing or have already filed a workers’ compensation claim for injury or death, talk with a lawyer before trying to represent yourself.  After a work-related injury, you are left to face mounting medical bills, the prospect of a lengthy recovery, and the fear that you may never be able to return to the same type of work or earning capacity. A death at work overshadows all of these worries with enormous grief.  These are reasons why it is important to seek experienced and competent representation. In a work-related accident, compensation benefits should be available not only for your injury-related medical and surgical bills, but also for physical therapy, medical equipment, mileage to and from your treatment appointments, and any permanent disability (even if you return to work).

Do I Need A Lawyer For My Workers’ Compensation Case?

This is a good question. You might be surprised, but our first answer is not “of course.” Many on-the-job injuries are not serious, are witnessed or reported right away, and result in quick medical care paid for by an employer (or its workers’ compensation insurance company) that acknowledges its legal responsibility without hesitation, question or complaint. While we never shy away from talking to an injured worker who has questions, it is unlikely that the involvement of an attorney would be necessary under these circumstances.

If the injury is more serious, is not witnessed or reported quickly, does not heal quickly, or if medical care is discouraged or not provided when you need it, then you need to call an attorney. You should also be prepared to call an attorney if you do not receive compensation benefits or if you receive a Form 43 denying responsibility for your injury.  An experienced attorney will help make sure you are getting the treatment you need to heal as quickly and completely as possible.  An attorney will also help you receive the compensation benefits you are entitled to under Connecticut law; and help you avoid the pitfalls that can severely limit or even end your entitlement to compensation benefits.

We think the biggest problem with workers’ compensation is that it should be straightforward and simple, but it often is not. It is important to know that the Workers’ Compensation Commission regulates attorney fees in compensation cases.  In almost all instances, the attorney fee is only 20 percent of some of the benefits you may receive. For example, when your employer is making voluntary payments of weekly benefits for temporary total or temporary partial disability, an attorney may not take a fee, no matter how many calls are made to the compensation carrier about late checks. An attorney also may not take a fee from medical benefit payments, no matter how much work is done to get you seen by a doctor or to get a medical bill paid. In fact, a common source of the attorney’s 20 percent fee is the payment made for permanent disability after you have healed.  Since healing usually takes time, the sooner an attorney is working for you, the more he or she will eventually do for the fee being earned. Finally, the commissioners are quickly available to deal with any dispute an injured worker may have with his or her attorney.

I’ve Been Hurt at Work — Now What Do I Do?

If you’ve been hurt at work, the first thing you need to do is report the injury to your supervisor. If you do not report your injury, then it is almost sure to be denied by your employer. You may know you were hurt, and if you do not let too much time go by, you may remember the date and time that you sustained the injury.  However, an employer cannot check and document an unreported injury, and the coworker who you think will back you up was probably not paying as much attention as you think.

You will also want a doctor to examine you, but if you are not on the way to the hospital to be seen in the emergency department, then you may have to start with your employer’s doctor. Many employers use “managed care” programs for workers’ compensation, which are like HMO plans specifically for workers hurt on the job.  As with many HMO plans, your employer’s workers’ compensation medical plan may require you to see a particular doctor before you can be seen by a specialist.  Although you should have a choice of treating doctors, your list of approved choices may be limited (unless you are not on the way to the hospital for an emergency). Even if your family doctor is a part of your health insurance plan, they may not be a part of your employer’s workers’ compensation plan.  By reporting your injury, you can know where to go for your first examination and not have to find out later that your bill will not be paid or that your employer will not pay attention to the opinion of the doctor you decided to see.

In sum;

  • Report the injury to your supervisor immediately.
  • Get examined by a doctor listed under your employers’ workers’ compensation plan.

To learn more about navigating worker’s compensation cases with an attorney and your employer, as well as other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: free download

Slip and Fall Cases in CT

Slip and Fall Cases

Often called “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents, premises liability cases arise when someone is injured on someone else’s property, whether it is public or private. These cases usually derive from a combination of the most basic everyday activities such as walking, and the negligence of a business or property owner.

Falls can occur due to:

  • Untreated snow or ice
  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Cluttered aisles
  • Dangerous merchandise displays
  • Broken or uneven pavement
  • Poorly maintained stairs
  • Bad lighting
  • And more

Falls can lead to serious and catastrophic injuries, expensive surgeries, hospital stays, lengthy physical rehabilitation, permanent disability and even death. Many people are not aware that these can be the most difficult cases to prove. The towns, business owners, property owners and landlords in Connecticut have a legal responsibility to make sure the property under their control is maintained, repaired, and made safe for all those who use it. There are varying standards of care that apply depending on where a fall takes place and what the property owner’s duty is to the person who has been injured.

If you are hurt due to a owner or maintainer’s failure to create or fix a dangerous condition, it is important to know that they can be fully responsible for your medical expenses, lost wages, permanent limitations, and the resulting pain and troubles that may be with you for the rest of your life.

The initial investigation is critical in these cases, as photographs, videotapes, surveillance films, and witness statements need to be identified and preserved. Identifying the property owner or owners is of immense importance, as there are certain notice requirements that need to be satisfied.

What Should I Do If I’m Hurt in a Fall?

There are some important steps to take if you have sustained an injury from taking a fall. First, do not rush away from the scene. A person who has tripped and fallen is often embarrassed; they get up, look around to make sure no one has seen them, and then they hurry away. By the time they return to report their injury, the floor has been cleaned or repaired and there are no witnesses to be found.

If you do not rush away from the place where you have fallen, you give yourself the chance to look around and see what caused your fall. Stating that it was “something on the floor” is usually not helpful. You want to know what it is, where it seems to have come from, what color it is, and what the area around you looks like. It can be very helpful to take a picture of the area in which you fell. There is nothing more helpful than a picture to show just where you are and what caused you to trip or slip and fall. If you can’t take a picture, then maybe someone else can.

Try to identify witnesses. We are embarrassed when we fall, and there is often immediate pain to cope with. However, obtaining the names of witnesses who may have seen what occurred can be very helpful to your case. Those who come to help you are usually willing to leave their name, address and phone number. Hurrying away from a store after a fall and reporting it later can cause the store’s insurance carrier to be suspicious that you are making things up. Let the store’s employees know what happened so an investigation can be done.

One very important step is to get medical attention right away. If you do not rush away from the place where you fall, or you at least report the event promptly, then help yourself in the most important way possible. This allows you the best chance of getting quick medical care. Driving yourself to an emergency room with a badly sprained or broken ankle, torn knee ligaments, an excruciating headache, or a dislocated shoulder is difficult and dangerous. If you have any doubts about the extent of your injury or your ability to get to a doctor quickly, it is best to let the store make the arrangements. Ambulance personnel can begin caring for you right away.

Key steps following a slip and fall situation:

  • Do not rush away from the scene
  • Take a picture of the are area in which you fell
  • Identify witnesses
  • Get medical attention right away

To learn more about slip and fall accident cases and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book PDF

Dog Bite Cases in CT

Dog Bite Cases

In Connecticut, people who choose to enjoy the pleasure of having a dog also take on the responsibility of making sure the dog does no harm to people, property, or other pets in the community.  Though most dog owners are conscientious about making sure they follow leash laws and other ethical standards for animal care, some are not so cautious. The good news is that in our state, the law is generally on the side of a dog bite victim. Generally, simply proving that the owner or keeper has responsibility for the dog is enough cause for a case. Though anyone can be attacked by a dog or cat, children and the elderly can be particularly at risk.  A dog or cat bite can lead to shots to prevent rabies, wound infections, expensive surgeries, physical rehabilitation and permanent scarring.

I’ve Been Bitten By A Dog; What Should I Do?

No matter how bad the bite looks, the first thing to do is seek medical attention.  Most of us have no hesitation about being licked by a dog, but if there has been any breaking of the skin – no matter how small – you run the risk of developing an infection, or worse.  Get to an emergency room or a doctor immediately.

Call the animal warden or an animal control officer from your town or city – the number is in the blue pages of your phone book or on the internet. You must make sure that the dog is current on its shots. Rabies is a dreaded disease for good reason.  The animal control officer will help identify the animal and contact the owner and/or keeper and make sure that all shots are current. If there is any risk of rabies, you should talk with a doctor about  treatment without delay.  Over the years, rabies shots have improved and are nowhere near as painful as they once were.  Rabies, however, is as dangerous as ever.  Talk with a doctor about what should be done to protect you.

Who Is Responsible For The Injuries?

In Connecticut, the dog’s owner or keeper is fully responsible for injuries and damages that the animal causes.  Finding the identity of the dog’s owner is usually not difficult, and it is something with which the animal control officer will assist you. Decisions about what it means to be a dog’s “keeper” often have to be made when injuries are sustained on rental properties. It is not uncommon for landlords to be sued for allowing a dog in a tenant’s apartment. In some cases, a landlord may have even been aware that a tenant’s dog was dangerous. The courts have consistently decided that a “keeper” must have responsibility for the dog’s care, maintenance, or control, which includes feeding, watering, exercising, sheltering or otherwise caring for the dog. According to Connecticut’s statute about injuries caused by dogs, if the owner or keeper is a minor, then the child’s parent or guardian is responsible for the dog’s behavior.

 Is It True That The Owner Or Keeper Is Only Responsible For Injuries And Damages If The Dog Has Injured Someone Before?

Connecticut has a statute about injuries caused by dogs, and the owner or keeper is held responsible for all bites, even if the dog has not hurt someone before. Many of the rules that we follow are not statutes, but rather laws that have been with us for centuries and that are often based on principles of commonly accepted behavior and decency. These are part of our “common law.”  According to Connecticut’s statutory law, a domestic animal’s owner or keeper is responsible for injuries that the animal causes, regardless of whether or not that animal has previously hurt someone.  In other words, once the owner or keeper knows his particular animal is dangerous, he has the obligation to take additional measures to be sure the animal never does it again.  If the owner does not take the additional measures, he could be held criminally liable.

To learn more about dog bite accident cases and other beneficial information related to personal injury cases in Connecticut, I encourage you to download our pocket guide for free via this link: Book PDF