It is the legal duty of any employer to offer his workers a safe and healthful place in which to perform their duties. A failure to meet this obligation can’t help but set the stage for harmful workplace accidents. Nevertheless, employees often sustain on-the-job injuries despite all efforts by management to make the workplace safe.
Every state in the union has a system in place to assist these injured workers, and Nevada is no exception. Regrettably, not all employees are fully aware of their rights.
Workers’ Compensation and You
Before workers’ compensation existed, injured workers in search of financial reimbursement had no choice but to sue their employers. An employee in this situation had not only to prove his case but also to pay his own court and attorney costs. If he subsequently lost his legal battle, reimbursement was out of the question.
Your Workers’ Compensation Rights
If you’re injured on the job today, you have 7 days to inform your employer and obtain his signature on a C-1 incident report. This form serves as proof that you’ve suffered a workplace injury and that the company knows about it. Once you’ve taken this first vital step, you will have 90 days to see a doctor and obtain his signature on the Form C-4 that sets your claim in motion.
Fears of Employer Retaliation
Nevada is a so-called “right-to-work” state. Although the term might appear to imply the freedom to seek a job, the alternate designation, “employment-at-will,” describes the situation somewhat better. It actually indicates that your employer can fire you whenever he wants, and he doesn’t need a reason or have to tell you why.
Injured workers who understand the true meaning of the term may naturally fear that filing for worker’s compensation will put them in serious danger of losing their jobs. It is particularly easy to get this impression if your employer attempts to discourage you from pursuing your legal rights or seeking any sort of medical assistance.
However, all injured workers need to understand that the employer’s right to terminate at will does not extend to cases involving workers’ compensation. You cannot lose your job for filing a claim. If your boss does attempt to fire you for this, you have legal grounds for a lawsuit.
The Uninsured Employer
If your employer should fail in his legal duty to provide workers’ compensation insurance, the courts can impose a fine of up to $15,000, subject him to premium penalties and even force him to cease doing business until he rectifies the situation. In the more serious cases where the employee in question has died or sustained a substantial bodily injury while on the job, the uninsured employer could face criminal charges.
If you suffer illness or injury while working for an uninsured employer, you should still seek medical treatment and obtain a signed C-4 form. You should also inform the medical provider’s staff that your employer is not insured. The Workers’ Compensation Section of Nevada’s Division of Industrial Relations will conduct an investigation, and the state itself will potentially compensate you through its Uninsured Employer Account.
Possible Benefits to Injured Employees
If his employer is properly insured, the worker who has suffered an on-the-job injury or work-related illness can expect reimbursement for a number of associated expenses. These include compensation for:
- Necessary medical treatment.
- Loss of wages.
- Permanent partial or total disability.
- Vocational rehabilitative services.
- Other expenses related to the claim.
After receiving the Form C-4 accident notification, the insurer has 30 days to either deny or accept your claim. Those who receive a denial have the legal right to appeal.
When Suing Your Employer is an Option
Although the law generally prohibits workers from suing their employers over unsafe working conditions, exceptions sometimes apply. An employee can bring a legitimate lawsuit against an employer who has fired or demoted him for:
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim.
- Suffering an employment-related injury or illness.
- Refusing to work in a hazardous environment.
It is, of course, also possible for an injured employee to sue an employer who has caused the damage himself through assault, battery or both.
Obtaining Legal Help
If you are having trouble with your workplace illness or injury claim, the qualified personal injury lawyers at Weiner Law Group are here to assist you. Whether your complaint is physical or psychological in nature, our deep understanding of workers’ compensation law in Nevada will aid us in launching a fight for your rights. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Contact our office today at 702-202-0500.