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Workers' Compensation is an insurance system that provides benefits to employees who experience work-related injuries or illnesses. Employers are required to carry Workers' Compensation insurance for their employees. By meeting their workers' compensation insurance requirements, employers are afforded a certain degree of protection against lawsuits filed by employees.
Each state has its own Workers' Compensation laws, which are enforced by an agency tasked with oversight of the system. A Division of Workers' Compensation or a Board of Workers' Compensation is typically established within the Department of Labor or the Department of Finance to monitor the administration of Workers' Compensation claims. These agencies also provide adjudicative services to assist in resolving disputes that arise out of claims for benefits. State Workers' Compensation agencies may also investigate cases of suspected Workers' Compensation fraud.
Workers' Compensation insurance generally covers any work-related injury or illness, including many that may not have occurred in the workplace. Injuries that occur off-site or while traveling are covered by Workers' Compensation if the employees' activity at the time was work related. Illnesses are often covered by the insurance if they are the result of work-related exposure to hazardous substances, or are the result of work conditions, such as heart conditions or stress-related illness.
Workers' Compensation benefits consist of replacement income, payment of related medical expenses, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Replacement income is typically set at two-thirds of the employee's average wage, but it is usually capped at a certain amount set by state law. Long-term or lump-sum benefits may be provided to a worker who is permanently injured or disabled due to a work-related injury or illness.
In addition to purchasing the required Workers' Compensation insurance, employers must make information regarding the insurance coverage available to employees. Employees must be notified of the insurance carrier, their options for medical treatments, and details about the insurance benefits. Employers are also required to provide employees with written forms for submitting claims within 24 hours of receiving notification of an injury or illness, and they must make employees aware of their rights under the Workers' Compensation laws for that state.