If you’re a unionized worker and have ever wondered about your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, you’re not alone.
Workers’ compensation is designed to provide financial support for employees who’ve suffered job-related injuries or illnesses, but does being part of a union affect your ability to claim these benefits?
In this post, we’ll delve into the relationship between union membership and workers’ comp eligibility. We will explore how unionized workers can still access these essential benefits, what differences might exist, and how a union membership can alter the claims process.
Whether you’re already part of a union or considering joining one, understanding your rights and entitlements when it comes to workers’ compensation is a vital step in protecting yourself, your family, and your assets against the possibility of injury-related expenses.
First, let’s take a closer look at the connection between union workers and workers’ comp.
Exploring the Eligibility of Unionized Workers for Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a system that provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses, regardless of their union membership status.
This system is designed to provide financial assistance, medical care, and rehabilitation services to help workers recover and return to work. Union workers are typically entitled to the same benefits and protections as their non-union counterparts.
Additionally, if you can prove that you have an occupational disease, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Not all injuries are covered by workers’ compensation law, even if the injury happened “on the job.” To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, unionized workers must meet certain criteria. These criteria typically include:
- Being employed at the time of the injury.
- Being on company property or in a location required by their work.
- Sustaining the injury or illness as a result of their work.
- Notifying their employer within a specified time frame.
These requirements ensure that workers receive benefits for injuries that occur in the course of their employment.
For instance, let’s say that a union worker is injured in a slip-and-fall accident at work. The worker promptly reports the incident to their employer and seeks medical attention. In this case, the worker should be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation for Unionized Workers
Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill due to their work. The system ensures that workers receive fair compensation for their injuries and are provided with medical treatment, rehabilitation services, and income replacement during their recovery period.
It’s also important to note that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that employees are entitled to benefits regardless of who is responsible for the injury. However, the conditions for worker’s compensation benefits, union or otherwise, can vary from state to state.
For example, the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) states that for an injury to be covered under workers’ compensation, the harm suffered by the employee must have been caused by an “accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment”. This means that even if a person is hurt “while working,” “on the job,” or “at work,” they may not be able to qualify for the insurance payout.
Securing Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Unionized Workers
Unionized workers must report their injuries to their employers and union representatives promptly. Union stewards play an essential role in assisting injured workers with medical care, filing claims, applying for benefits, and advocating for their interests.
Unionized workers may face challenges in securing their rightful benefits in workers’ compensation cases, just like non-unionized workers. However, studies indicate that union workers are more likely to receive benefits compared to non-union workers in workers’ compensation cases. This is likely due to the collective bargaining power of unions, which allows them to negotiate better working conditions, including workers’ compensation benefits, for their members.
Nevertheless, legal assistance may still be necessary to ensure that unionized workers receive the support they deserve, as well as help to navigate the complexities of the claims and appeals process.
In some cases, employers or insurance companies may dispute the validity of the claim or attempt to minimize the benefits owed to the worker. This is where legal assistance specific to workers’ comp laws can be crucial in protecting the rights of unionized workers and ensuring they receive the benefits they are owed. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can provide this valuable assistance.
Let’s say that a unionized worker suffers a back injury while lifting heavy objects at their workplace.
The worker files a workers’ compensation claim, but the employer disputes the severity of the injury and challenges the worker’s eligibility for benefits.
In this situation, the worker may need the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to gather evidence, advocate for their rights, and ensure they receive the proper benefits they are entitled to.
The Role of Labor Unions in Workers’ Compensation
Labor unions also play a vital role in advocating for workers’ compensation benefits for their members.
They fight for fair pay, benefits, and workplace protections for all workers, including workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, labor unions prioritize workers’ well-being and protection before and after an injury, offering supplemental benefits to help injured workers financially while they are out of work.
In addition to the standard workers’ compensation benefits provided by state laws, some union contracts may include specific provisions that enhance the benefits available to union members. And some unions and employers even create their own workers’ compensation programs through collective bargaining.
Where To Turn for Help in Securing the Benefits You Deserve
Unionized workers have the same rights and protections as non-unionized workers when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits, and it’s equally important for unionized workers to report injuries promptly, seek assistance from union stewards, and engage with union leaders throughout the process.
As a union worker, you should be aware of their rights, report injuries promptly, seek assistance from union representatives, and consult with experienced Baltimore workers’ compensation attorneys when necessary.
If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim (or have filed one without the benefit of an attorney, and the employer or insurer has contested the claim), your first course of action is to contact a qualified workers’ comp lawyer.
Workers’ compensation attorneys have the education, the resources, and, most importantly, the experience to walk confidently into a courtroom and swing the odds of success in their favor.
By understanding your rights as a unionized worker and seeking the necessary support, you can ensure that you receive all of the benefits that you’re entitled to under Maryland workers’ compensation laws.