Labor laws ensure that workers are safe from occupational harm. Workers' compensation law provides that workers who are harmed while performing an occupational task will receive compensation commensurate to such harm. The federal government created the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs to manage compensation claims filed by federal workers for occupational injuries and illnesses.
Different laws governs workers' compensation for workers from different industries. Employees who are working in high-risk industry, such as mining, railroad, maritime, and the military, are often given higher compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses due to the nature of their jobs. The federal government has authority over federal employees and workers employed in businesses that are important to interstate commerce. There are special funds created for workers with specific illnesses, such as mesothelioma (as a result of asbestos exposure) and pneumoconiosis (as a result of coal mine dust exposure). These funds provides disability payments to applicable workers when their companies are unable to pay. State laws, for the most part, comprise the majority of workers' compensation law. As such, workers' compensation law varies from state to state, in terms of monetary awards and in the procedure for filing claims.
The workers' compensation system aims to eliminate the need for litigation, especially because workers who are injured, disabled, or diseased as a result of their work would not have the capability to go after their employers. In addition, enactment of workers' compensation law ensures that workers are immediately compensated given that litigation takes years to conclude, the results of which may not always be in favor of the worker. For workers who are killed as a result of occupational accidents or illnesses, their decedents are also given compensation. Laws are also in place to protect employers from fraudulent or abusive workers' compensation claims.
Despite the elimination of litigation in the workers' compensation system, it is uncommon to find disputes arising from workers' compensation claims especially when the employers do not agree to the validity of the claim. Employers are required to contribute to the system in exchange for the elimination of litigation and they are given the right to dispute the validity of claims. The dispute on claims, however, will not be taken to court but to an administrative board who will conduct an evaluation of the claim. In the part of the employee, when a workers' compensation claim is disputed by the employer, it is crucial to employ the expertise of a workers' compensation law attorney for the counsel to provide advice as to the necessary steps to take. While the main purpose of the workers' compensation system is to eliminate litigation, bringing a workers' compensation claim to court is not an impossibility after an administrative law judge and a review panel will declare that a claim is invalid. The claimant has the option of filing an appeal in state court. Filing a workers' compensation claim is not as exhausting as litigation, but there are nuances involved in the resolution of such claims, thus it is imperative to hire an attorney so that the claim will not be for naught.