(Statutory references to RSA Chapter 281-A have been omitted for the sake of simplicity.)
1. What is Worker’s Compensation?
If you are injured on the job in New Hampshire, worker’s compensation is a system that provides benefits to help cover your medical expenses and lost wages. In New Hampshire, worker’s compensation is a mandatory insurance coverage that employers are required to provide to their employees. This system is governed by complex laws and regulations, and filing a claim can be a complicated process.
A law firm that specializes in worker’s compensation cases can help you navigate the system, ensuring that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. Our experienced attorneys can assist you with every aspect of your worker’s compensation claim, from filing your initial application to representing you in court if necessary.
2. Where are Claims Filed and Overseen?
The New Hampshire Department of Labor in Concord has jurisdiction over state worker’s compensation claims. They are responsible for administering and enforcing the state’s worker’s compensation laws, including overseeing the claims process, conducting hearings, and resolving disputes between employees and employers.
If you are injured on the job in New Hampshire and need to file a worker’s compensation claim, you will need to submit your claim to the New Hampshire Department of Labor. They will review your application and determine your eligibility for benefits.
Our law firm has extensive experience working with the New Hampshire Department of Labor, and we can assist you with every step of the claims process, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
3. What do I do if I am Injured at Work?
If you are injured at work, it is important to take immediate action. The first thing you should do is notify your supervisor of the injury as soon as possible. This will allow your employer to start the claims process and ensure that you receive the appropriate medical attention. You should also seek medical attention right away, even if you think your injury is minor. It is important to document any injuries and receive a medical evaluation to determine the extent of your injuries.
In addition, you should document the details of the incident, including the time, date, and location of the injury, as well as any witnesses who may have seen what happened. Once you have reported your injury to your employer, you may be asked to complete additional paperwork, such as a worker’s compensation claim form. A law firm that specializes in worker’s compensation cases can help guide you through the process and ensure that you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled.
4. What are the Time Limits for Making a Claim?
If you are injured on the job in New Hampshire, it is important to be aware of the time limits for making a claim. In general, a notice of the injury must be given to your employer within two hours of the time that the injury occurred. Failure to provide timely notice may result in the denial of your claim. Additionally, the claim must be instituted within three years of the date of the injury. This means that you must file your claim with the New Hampshire Department of Labor within three years of the date of the injury, or your claim may be barred.
It is important to note that there may be exceptions to these time limits in certain circumstances, such as if you were not aware of the injury until later or if the injury was caused by a hazardous substance. A law firm that specializes in worker’s compensation cases can help ensure that you meet all applicable deadlines and receive the full benefits to which you are entitled.
5. How are Claims Handled?
As a law firm that specializes in worker’s compensation, we often see cases where injured workers encounter challenges in receiving the compensation they deserve. While employers are required to purchase insurance to cover work-related injuries, insurance companies may sometimes deny claims or offer inadequate settlements.
Our firm works to ensure that injured workers are fairly compensated for their injuries, by representing them in negotiations with insurance adjusters and, if necessary, pursuing legal action to protect their rights. We understand the complexities of the claims process and strive to help our clients navigate it successfully.
6. What Does the Insurance Company do When I Make a Claim?
Insurance companies are obligated to respond to claims within a short timeframe. After being notified of a claim, the insurer has 21 days to investigate and make a decision on whether to pay or deny it. This period can be stressful for injured workers, who may be unsure about their financial stability during their recovery. Our firm works to ensure that insurance companies meet their legal obligations and that our clients receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives.
7. On What Grounds Can the Insurance Company Deny My Claim?
We often see cases where insurance companies try to deny claims on various grounds. The most common reason for denial is that the injury was not related to the job, which can be challenged through medical evidence and testimony. Additionally, insurers may deny claims by arguing that there was no employer-employee relationship or that the injury was a result of the worker’s own misconduct. Our firm is experienced in handling these types of cases and works to ensure that our clients are treated fairly and receive the compensation they deserve.
8. Can They Accept My Claim but Deny Bills for Medical Care?
Yes, but as a worker’s compensation law firm, we know that insurers may sometimes accept a claim but deny certain bills for medical care. If this happens, the insurer must provide a written denial to the injured worker and the medical provider within 30 days of receiving the disputed bill. This can create additional stress and uncertainty for injured workers, who may already be struggling to recover from their injuries. Our firm works to ensure that our clients receive the medical care they need, by advocating for their rights and challenging any improper denials by insurers.
9. Can I Make a Claim for Just Medical Care if I do not Miss Work?
Yes, injured workers may be eligible to make a claim for medical care, even if they do not miss work. However, it is important to note that the insurance company must be notified at the beginning of the claim and reserves the right to dispute bills submitted later. This can be a daunting task for some which is why our firm works to ensure that our clients understand their rights and are able to receive the medical care they need, by representing them in negotiations with insurers and, if necessary, pursuing legal action on their behalf.
10. What Benefits am I Entitled to if My Claim is Valid?
Injured workers are entitled to several benefits if their claim is valid. These benefits may include wage replacement up to 60%, full medical payments without co-pays or deductibles, a permanent impairment award, and job placement assistance. However, obtaining these benefits can often be a complicated and stressful process, particularly if the insurer denies or disputes the claim. Our firm works to ensure that our clients are treated fairly and receive the benefits they are entitled to, by advocating for their rights and representing them throughout the claims process.
11. Can I Also Recover for My Pain, Loss of Enjoyment of Life and Aggravation?
As a law firm specializing in worker’s compensation cases in New Hampshire, we are aware that injured workers may experience significant pain, loss of enjoyment of life, and other aggravating effects due to their workplace injuries. However, it is important to note that under New Hampshire’s worker’s compensation laws, such losses are not compensable through a worker’s compensation claim. While the primary focus of a worker’s compensation claim is to provide medical treatment and wage replacement, our firm can help clients explore alternative legal options for seeking compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
12. Can They Deny My Claim on the Grounds That it Was My Fault?
While injuries caused by clumsiness or other unintentional acts are generally considered valid, your claim may be disputed if it is found to be caused, at least in part, by your intoxication or serious and willful misconduct. However, the mere fact that the injury was caused by your own actions or mistakes does not typically provide grounds for denying a claim. We can help you understand your legal rights and options if your claim is challenged on these or other grounds.
13. What Are My Rights if Some or All of My Claim is Denied?
As a worker’s compensation law firm in New Hampshire, we understand the options available to you if your claim is denied, in whole or in part. You have the right to request a hearing to contest the denial, but it is important to act quickly because you only have 18 months to make the request. We can help you navigate the legal process and advocate for your rights to ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
14. What if I am Able to Return to Work but am Earning Less Than Before?
When you are out of work completely, you could be entitled to receive up to 60% of your average weekly wage. If you are able to return to work but are earning less than before, you may still be entitled to benefits. Specifically, you may be eligible to receive 60% of the difference between your pre-injury earnings and your post-injury earnings. We understand New Hampshire’s worker’s compensation laws and can help you determine your eligibility for benefits to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
15. How are My Pre-injury Earnings Calculated?
When calculating your pre-injury earnings in New Hampshire, your employer is required to provide a schedule of your weekly wages for the 26 weeks before the injury. You can request up to a 52-week schedule. To determine your average weekly wage, a weighted average is calculated, taking into account any overtime, bonuses, or other compensation that you received during that period. This average is then used to calculate your wage replacement benefits while you are out of work or earning less due to your injury.
16. What if I Was Working More Than One Job When I Was Hurt?
If you were working more than one job when you were hurt, you are entitled to combine your earnings for all jobs when calculating the average weekly wage, but only as to employers subject to New Hampshire’s worker’s compensation laws. It is important to note that you cannot combine earnings from non-covered employment, such as self-employment or work performed in another state. Your worker’s compensation attorney can help you navigate the complexities of calculating your average weekly wage when you have multiple jobs.
17. What if One or More Body Parts Are Permanently Impaired?
If one or more body parts are permanently impaired due to a workplace injury, you may be entitled to a separate benefit for permanency, regardless of whether you have returned to work or not. Your doctor would make this assessment once you have achieved maximum medical improvement. The insurance company may get a second opinion. The amount of the award will depend on the degree of impairment and the body part involved.
18. Am I Entitled to a Cost-of-Living Adjustment if I am Disabled for a Long Time?
As a worker’s compensation law firm in New Hampshire, we can confirm that if you have been disabled for at least three years and are not entitled to Social Security disability, you may be entitled to a cost-of-living adjustment. This adjustment is only applicable if you are receiving less than 60% of the state’s current average weekly wage. It’s important to keep in mind that the adjustment is not automatic and must be requested through the New Hampshire Department of Labor.
19. What if My Injury Was Caused by Another Party?
If your injury was caused by a third party, you may be able to make a third-party claim in court, in addition to receiving worker’s compensation benefits. This may allow you to recover for losses such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, which are not recoverable in a worker’s compensation claim. It is important to note that if you receive a third-party settlement or judgment, the worker’s compensation carrier may have a right of reimbursement for benefits paid out. It is recommended that you speak with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney to discuss your options and protect your rights.
20. What if I Cannot Return to Work at the Same Job I did When I Was Injured?
Under New Hampshire’s worker’s compensation laws, if you cannot return to your pre-injury job, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services to assist you in finding a new, suitable job. The insurance company is required to pay for these services, which may include vocational counseling, training, job search assistance, and other support to help you transition to a new job. The goal is to help you become self-sufficient again and to minimize the impact of your injury on your ability to earn a living. If you have questions about vocational rehabilitation or believe that you are entitled to these services, work with a worker’s compensation attorney for assistance.
21. Does My Employer Have to Provide Temporary Work While I Recover?
Yes, they do. In New Hampshire, employers are required to provide temporary work while an injured employee is recovering. This is known as “light duty” or “modified duty” work. If your employer offers you light duty work that your doctor has approved, you must accept it or risk losing your benefits. However, it’s important to note that this work is only intended to be temporary and is not a substitute for your regular job. If you are unable to perform your regular job duties due to your injury, your employer may be required to provide vocational rehabilitation services to help you find a suitable alternative job.
22. Does My Employer Have to Hold My Original Job Open for Me?
Under New Hampshire’s worker’s compensation laws, employers are required to hold the injured worker’s job open for them if they are able to perform the work once they have recovered. However, the employer is only required to hold the job open for up to 18 months. If the injured worker is unable to return to work within this time frame, the employer may be able to fill the position with another employee. If this happens, the injured worker may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation services to help them find a new job.
23. Do I Have the Right to Choose My Doctor?
Yes, you have the right to select your own treating physician. However, if you do not like the physician that you chose or if the insurance company disagrees with your choice, they may ask you to see another physician for an independent medical evaluation. If you do not agree with the evaluation, you have the right to dispute it and request a hearing. It is important to select a doctor who has experience treating work-related injuries and who is familiar with the worker’s compensation process to ensure that your medical care is appropriate and that your rights are protected.
24. Can the Insurance Company Have Me Examined by Someone Else?
As a worker’s compensation law firm in New Hampshire, we can confirm that an insurance company can request to have you examined by a qualified healthcare provider of their choosing. However, they must give you appropriate advance notice and pay for your mileage expenses. You have the right to bring a witness with you to the examination if you so choose. If you refuse to attend the examination or obstruct it in any way, your weekly wage benefits may be in danger. It is important to understand that the examination is for the purpose of evaluating your condition and determining the extent of your injuries, and not to provide treatment.
25. Can I Settle My Claim and, if so, How?
Settling a worker’s compensation claim can be a viable option for some injured workers. However, it is important to note that the settlement is subject to review and approval by the New Hampshire Labor Department. In NH, you cannot settle your right to medical expense payments, and settlements can be subject to a fee. If you and the insurance company reach an agreement, it is important to have an experienced worker’s compensation attorney review the terms of the settlement to ensure that it is fair and equitable.
26. How do I Pay My Attorney for Representing Me?
27. Can I Get My Level of Wage Replacement Benefits Reviewed?
Yes, if you believe that your wage replacement benefits are not at the proper level, you can request a hearing to review them. This hearing must be requested within four years of a denial of an award or last payment and can be based on a change in your medical condition or your ability to work, a mistake as to the nature or extent of your injury or disability, fraud, undue influence, or coercion. A worker’s compensation law firm can help you through this process and ensure that your rights are protected.
28. What if I Disagree With a Decision of the New Hampshire Labor Department?
If you disagree with a decision made by the New Hampshire Labor Department, you have the right to appeal it to the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board for a new hearing. It’s important to note that the appeals process can be complicated and time-consuming, so it’s wise to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.