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How does an injured worker obtain workers' compensation benefits?

Most Connecticut workers are aware that the state's workers' compensation system will pay them certain benefits if they are injured while working, but the actual process for obtaining benefits can be something of a mystery. This post will provide an overview of the workers' compensation claim process in hopes of clarifying.

To start, in order to qualify for workers' compensation, the injury in question must be "work related," that is, it must have happened while the employee was engaged in carrying out a function of his or employment. Next, the employee must give prompt notice of the injury or illness to the employer. The employer will then send the employee to a physician of its choice for preliminary treatment. After this initial treatment, the employee can choose a physician to provide any necessary continuing medical care. The worker must also submit Form 30C, the claim form for workers' compensation benefits.

The next steps depend upon the severity of the injury. If the employee recovers from the injury, returning to work is the next step. If the employee is disabled to any degree for three or more days, then the employer will begin to pay benefits for temporary disability, which include both medical expenses and lost income. If the employee reaches the stage of recovery called Maximum Medical Improvement and is, in the opinion of the treating physician, permanently partially disabled, then the worker may file a claim for permanent disability benefits.

If the worker and the employer disagree on the nature and severity of the injury, or the effect of the injury on the worker's ability to perform his or her job duties, the worker can request a hearing from the workers' compensation commission. If either the worker or the employer disagrees with the findings of the commission, they can invoke the system's appellate process. Either party can seek judicial review of the appellate decision by commencing a court case. Workers and their employers frequently disagree on the duration and amount of workers' compensation benefits that must be paid. In such cases, the worker may benefit from the assistance of a lawyer who is experienced in handling such cases.

Source: Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, "Information Packet," accessed on Nov. 12, 2017

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