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Teens: Hurt at work? Claim workers' compensation

You're young, and you're at your first job. You got hurt, but you have health insurance, so you feel like you should get it taken care of on your own time. That's not really right, though, because you were hurt at work, and your employer should offer workers' compensation assistance. It's important that your employer knows that you suffered an injury on the job, and you should receive access to workers' compensation benefits.

Why should I file a workers' compensation claim?

Unlike using your own insurance, workers' compensation covers all medical costs associated with your workplace injury. You may need to go to a specific doctor or hospital initially, but you will owe no copays or have to worry about bills coming through later.

Workers' compensation is a state-mandated program that most employers must offer to employees. Regardless of your age or ability to pay for medical treatment, it's there to take care of your needs. Additionally, if you cannot return to work, workers' compensation offers disability benefits and lost-wage benefits to help provide you with a portion of your income.

What kinds of expenses will workers' compensation cover for me?

You already know that workers' compensation covers medical expenses, but it also serves other purposes. It covers the replacement of your income if you have to stay off the job for an extended period of time, and it compensates you for permanent injuries. If you need training for a new position, workers' compensation covers those costs as well. Workers' compensation covers survivor benefits in the case that you die on the job.

Are there any catches to taking workers' compensation?

Just know that if you decide to take workers' compensation, you cannot sue your employer directly. If you wanted to make a personal injury claim, you won't have the right. You can't collect pain-and-suffering damages from workers' compensation benefits, either.

Wage replacement also has some oddities in that it won't replace your full wage. Wage replacement typically covers two thirds of your average wage, and there is a maximum you may receive at any point. While this might seem unfair, workers' compensation wage benefits don't get taxed. This means that you should make a similar amount to what you earned before, since taxes come out of a normal paycheck.

With the right support, you can decide if you need to file a workers' compensation claim. Regardless of your age or the length of time you've been with an employer, you have a right to pursue compensation for injuries you suffer on the job.

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