In Nebraska, most workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer personal injury as a result of an accident or disease that arises out of the scope and course of their employment. Even if the worker causes his or her own injuries, as long as the person was not intoxicated, engaged in horseplay, or willfully or intentionally caused their own injury, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
A workers’ compensation case may arise as a result of a specific incident, such as a fall from a ladder, or be a result of cumulative or repetitive motions, such as the development of carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of years of typing.
Conversely, independent contractors are not entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Usually it is easy to determine whether a person is an employee or independent contractor. When there is question, the courts look at a number of factors, including: control; distinct business; supervision; level of skill; who supplies tools; length of employment; method of payment; and the parties’ belief as to what type of relationship they are entering into.
Nebraska’s workers’ compensation law is usually called a tradeoff although it is usually more of a benefit to the employer than employee. In most circumstances, an employee gets workers’ compensation benefits even if they cause their own injury. These benefits are certain and fixed by Nebraska law. However, employer’s liability is limited. Injured workers cannot collect directly for pain and suffering, do not receive all of their lost wages and cannot normally sue co-workers.
Depending on the nature and extent of a work injury, an injured worker may be entitled to some or all of the following benefits:
Payment of their medical bills
Payment or reimbursement for prescription medication
Mileage reimbursement to and from medical appointments
Temporary Total Disability (“TTD”) benefits (weekly disability payments while a person is out of work and recovering for work-related injuries)
Permanent Partial Disability (“PPD”) benefits (money for a permanent impairment or disability but the person is able to return to work)
Permanent Total Disability (“PTD”) benefits (money for not being able to perform any type of work based on your permanent impairments or restrictions)
A family may be entitled to death benefits if a worker dies as a result of a job-related accident.
Nebraska statutes set forth basic requirements on employers (or their insurance companies) and employees regarding the benefits an injured worker may be entitled to. If an injured worker fails to follow these requirements they may lose your rights to benefits. In addition, employers and their insurers often fail to fully inform an injured worker about their rights, such as the option to select their own physician. These workers often lose out or receive less benefit than those workers who do understand their rights.
If you are injured while working due to the negligence of someone other than your employer or a fellow employee, you may have two claims: a workers’ compensation claim against your employer and a negligence claim or other personal injury claim against the person or company causing your injury.
Contact Nebraska’s Lapin Law Offices if you have been injured at work to learn about your rights.