The Workers’ Compensation Claims Process in New Hampshire
Workers throughout the state of New Hampshire are a vital part of the state’s economy, making everything from new construction to health and medical services to instructing our kids in schools possible.
But being an employee also comes with certain risks, especially for those employed in certain industries. To be sure, there are tens of thousands of injuries reported to the New Hampshire Department of Labor on a yearly basis in our state.
If you have been harmed while working in New Hampshire, there is a strong likelihood that you are entitled to benefits under workers’ compensation insurance. Our New Hampshire workers’ compensation lawyers at the office of Sabbeth Law can help you to navigate the workers’ comp claims process and understand your right to benefits. Call us today to get started.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
All employers in the state of New Hampshire are required under law to provide workers’ compensation insurance. In fact, even undocumented workers are eligible for most types of workers’ compensation benefits. This type of insurance offers no-fault coverage to employees who are injured on the job; this means that in order to recoup benefits per workers’ compensation, employees do not have to prove the fault of anyone at their place of employment. They will they be barred from recovery if their own negligence contributed to the accident that caused their injuries.
Workers’ compensation provides medical and disability benefits for injured employees. A worker who suffers an injury is entitled to 100 percent of their necessary and reasonable medical expenses. Disability benefits/lost wages benefits are paid at a rate of 60 percent of a worker’s wage (prior to the incident), and are only paid if the employee misses three days of work or more.
Types of Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation in New Hampshire
According to statutory language found in the New Hampshire workers’ compensation code, injuries that are covered under workers’ compensation insurance include all accident injuries or deaths “arising out of and in the course of employment,” as well as any occupational diseases or resulting deaths that arise out of and in the course of employment. There are some types of injuries that are excluded from coverage, per the statute, including diseases and deaths resulting from “stress without physical manifestation,” and mental injuries that result from a job transfer, disciplinary action, layoff, or other similar action.
In order to recover workers’ compensation benefits, the primary thing that you will need to prove is that your injury is eligible for coverage because it occurred during the course of your employment.
The Workers’ Comp Claims Process
If you are injured while working in New Hampshire, understanding the workers’ comp claims process is critical. A small error or waiting too long to take action could result in a denial of your benefits. Consider the following overview about the workers’ compensation claims process, and be sure to reach out to a qualified lawyer for information that is specific to your situation–
- Notify your employer of the injury as soon as possible. The very first step in the process–unless, of course, you require emergency medical treatment immediately following your workplace accident–is to provide your employer with notice of your injury as soon as possible. Your employer cannot initiate the workers’ compensation process until they have been provided with notice of the injury. What’s more, if you fail to notify your employer of your workplace accident and injury within two years, you will forfeit your right to compensation.
- Get medical care. After you have notified your employer of your injury (or earlier if you required emergency medical care), you should seek treatment for your injuries. From whom you can seek treatment depends on whether or not your employer has a managed care plan, in which case, you will need to seek coverage from an approved medical provider. Otherwise, you can select a doctor of your choice. It is best to verify your options with your employer before proceeding with care to ensure that you don’t end up having to pay for this care out of pocket.
- Your employer will report your injury to the Department of Labor. After receiving notice of your injury, your employer is obligated to file a First Report of Injury notice with the New Hampshire Department of Labor Workers’ Compensation Division. An employer is required to file this notice within five days of receiving notice of the injury from you.
- Recover workers’ compensation benefits. Once your employer has filed the First Report of Injury, your workers’ compensation benefits will begin on the fourth day of your disability. If you are disabled for 14 days or longer, which means that you cannot return to work for at least two weeks following the date of your injury, the three-day waiting period will be waived, and you will be eligible for disability/wage replacement benefits for the entirety of your disability period. In terms of medical benefits, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is required to pay for your medical expenses for as long as treatment of your injuries is required.
- Return to work. As your injuries heal, you may be able to return to work at the full capacity as you were employed prior to the injury, or on light duty. If you are assigned to light duty, your employer may reduce your pay respectively; however, you may be entitled to further workers’ compensation benefits in addition to your reduced wages.
What Happens If My Claim Is Denied?
While workers’ compensation is designed to pay injured workers benefits when they are harmed at work, employers and workers’ compensation insurers are not always eager to pay claims. If your claim for benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can attempt to have the decision reversed and recoup the benefits to which you’re entitled by negotiating directly with your employer and the insurance company responsible for providing you workers’ compensation benefits, or by requesting a hearing with the Department of Labor.
During a hearing, all evidence related to your claim will be presented to a hearing officer, who will ultimately issue a decision about your case. In the event that the hearing officer issues a decision with which you do not agree (i.e. you are denied workers’ compensation benefits), you maintain the right to appeal the hearing officer’s decision before the Compensation Appeals Board.
Time Limits for Filing and Appealing Workers’ Compensation Claim Decisions
Ensuring that you take all necessary steps related to your workers’ comp claim within the required time frame is absolutely critical. Important time limits of which you should be aware include:
- Two years from the date of your injury to provide your employer with notice of the injury (however, while you have two years, you should do this as soon as possible.
- Three years from the date of your injury to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- 18 months from receiving notice of claim denial to request a hearing.
If you are unsure about any of the time limits related to your workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with a qualified lawyer. Forfeiting your right to compensation due to a breach of the statute of limitations is unfortunate, and is the last thing that you want to deal with.
How Our New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
Being injured on the job can be a traumatic experience that leaves you with many questions about your rights and your future, including how you will afford your medical expenses or continue providing for yourself and your family. Our lawyers understand the anxiety and worry that you’re experiencing, and well as the pain and suffering you’re going through. When you call our team, we will assist with all steps of the workers’ comp claims process, beginning with helping you to understand the benefits available to you. We can represent you in giving your employer notice of your injury, determining from whom you may seek medical care, filing your workers’ compensation claim, negotiating with your workers’ compensation insurer, appealing a denied claim, and more.
Our team works on a contingency fee basis, which means you will never have to pay out-of-pocket for our services, nor will you owe us a cent if we are unable to recover a workers’ compensation award on your behalf. When you choose our team, we work hard to get you the benefits you deserve, allowing you to focus on your recovery with peace of mind.
Call Our New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
You don’t have to represent yourself in a workers’ compensation claim after being injured on the job, nor do you have to accept a lowballed workers’ compensation settlement or a claim denial. To schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with our New Hampshire workers’ compensation lawyers at the office of Sabbeth Law, please call us directly or send us a message. We are passionate about protecting the rights of injured workers in our state.