A job-related illness or injury can be a debilitating and stressful event. But it’s important for injured workers to know the differences between federal and state workers’ compensation law when considering whether and where to file a claim. The following post clarifies important key differences between federal and state workers’ compensation programs.
Federal workers’ compensation
Workers’ compensation for federal employees is governed by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), which is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor.
The federal workers’ comp program covers civilian employees of the federal government who have sustained work-related injuries or illness. This includes the provision of monetary benefits, such as compensation for lost wages and impairment as well as payment to dependents of employees who died from injuries or disease incurred on the job. It also includes medical benefits and assistance returning to work.
The FECA outlines the process that injured federal employees must take, which includes obtaining medical proof showing that their injuries or disease were connected to their employment. If forms are not properly submitted or if insufficient medical evidence is provided, the claim will likely be denied. Although denied claims may be contested, the appeals process is often more cumbersome than the initial application.
Federal vs. state workers’ compensation law
Although both federal and state laws compensate injured employees for their medical costs, surgeries, and hospitalizations, notable differences exist in the regulations.
One major difference is that the federal government has immunity from public employer liability, meaning that federal employees must pursue a claim through the federal workers’ compensation system. In certain private sector cases, injured employees may seek workers’ compensation and still pursue a claim against their employer.
Another difference is that injured federal workers are permitted to choose their own physician rather than selecting one from a preapproved list. Federal employees must also file any claims within three years of their injury unless their immediate superior had actual knowledge of the injury or death within 30 days of the accident.
North Carolina workers’ compensation law
Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer, not the injured party, has the right to choose the physician, and some employers have an on-site doctor to treat injured employees. The statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina is two years from the date of the injury.
Virginia workers compensation’ law
Virginia’s workers’ compensation law requires employers to provide claimants with a list of physicians to choose from. The claim must be filed within two years of the date of the accident.
Alabama workers’ compensation law
In Alabama, like in North Carolina, the employer selects the treating physician. The statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation claim is two years from the date of injury or two years from the date of the last compensation payment.
What should you do if you’ve been injured on the job?
Regardless of whether you are a federal or state employee, if you’ve been injured or fallen ill on the job, it’s important to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. Reach out to the Hunter & Everage law firm today to discuss your work injury claim.