People often confuse workers’ compensation actions or claims with tort or civil claims. However, if you are hurt at work, the things you are entitled to, as well as what actions you should take, vary greatly. For instance:

1. Fault is Not an Issue:

If you are involved in a car accident (and it is not work-related), who is at fault for the accident can drive (no pun intended!) the case. However, with a few exceptions, if you are injured while in the “course and scope” of your employment, who is at fault is not a consideration, and workers’ compensation benefits should apply. 

2. A Workers’ Compensation Action Could Be Your Exclusive Means of Recovery:

If you are injured while in the “course and scope of your employment”, with some exceptions, your only choice may be to sue your employer under the workers’ compensation scheme. You may not be able to sue your employer in general civil court. Therefore, you would not have the right to seek general damages, such as pain and suffering. 

3. You are Entitled to Choose Your Own Physician:

If you are injured in the “course and scope of your employment”, you have the right to choose your own physician, in each specialty that you need medical attention. While the employer may also force you as the employee to submit to an examination by the employer’s chosen physician, the employee “shall have the right to select one treating physician in any field or specialty.” La. R.S. 23:1121B(1). It is important that the employee knows this and does not just agree to choose the employer’s physician.

4. You are Also Entitled to Medical Mileage:

In addition to indemnity and medical benefits, which we will discuss in a future blog post, you are also entitled to reimbursement for the mileage that you travel to and from medical appointments and evaluations if you can drive yourself. If you are unable to drive yourself, you are entitled to transportation to and from your workers’ compensation-related medical appointments.

All workers’ compensation cases are different (factually and legally) and there may be considerations that are taken into account in one case and not another. For instance, your case may involve a third-party tortfeasor (for example: a third party causes a car accident while you are in the “course and scope” of your employment) and subrogation is an issue. You may have had a prior injury and the Second Injury Fund becomes involved. You may fall into an exception to the workers’ compensation scheme altogether or, there may be an issue regarding whether or not you are an independent contractor, as opposed to an employee. For all of these reasons, it is extremely important to at least schedule a consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss what your rights are in your particular case.