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What if my employer tells me not to file a workers' compensation claim or threatens to fire me if I do?

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In most states, it is a violation of the workers' compensation laws to retaliate against an employee for filing a workers' compensation claim. If this happens, immediately report it to your local workers' compensation office.

Can I ever sue my employer in court over a work-related injury?

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workcomp-lawsuitYes. If you are injured because of some reckless or intentional action on the part of your employer, you can bypass the workers' compensation system and sue your employer in court for a full range of damages, including punitive damages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

What kind of benefits will I receive?

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The workers' compensation system provides replacement income, medical expenses, and sometimes, vocational rehabilitation benefits -- that is, on-the-job training, schooling, or job placement assistance. The benefits paid through workers' compensation, however, are almost always relatively modest.

If I am initially treated by an insurance company doctor, do I have a right to see my own doctor at some point?

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State workers' compensation systems establish technical and often tricky rules in this area. Often, you have the right to ask for another doctor at the insurance company's expense if you clearly state that you don't like the one the insurance company provides, although there is sometimes a waiting period before you can get a second doctor. Also, if your injury is serious, you usually have the right to a second opinion.

Do I have to be injured at my workplace to be covered by workers' compensation?

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No. As long as your injury is job-related, it's covered. For example, you will be covered if you are injured while traveling on business, doing a work-related errand, or even attending a required business-related social function.

Can I be treated by my own doctor and, if not, can I trust a doctor provided by my employer?

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In some states, you have a right to see your own doctor if you make this request in writing before the injury occurs. More typically, however, injured workers are referred to a doctor recruited and paid for by their employers.

Does workers' compensation cover only injuries or does it also cover long-term problems and illnesses?

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Your injury need not be caused by an accident -- such as a fall from a ladder -- to be covered by workers' compensation. Many workers receive compensation for injuries that are caused by overuse or misuse over a long period of time -- for example,

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