SJTA Membership Handbook
Assistance with Workers’ Compensation Claims by J.L. Perry (Compliments of Reich, Adell & Crost)
Public employers, as well as those in the private sector, must have Workers’ Compensation Insurance to protect their employees in case of injury. This insurance is required by the State. It is a form of social insurance, as are unemployment insurance and state disability. It is, however, much more complicated. You cannot bring a lawsuit against the School District for a work injury. You will need legal assistance to insure that you are treated fairly, and know your legal rights.
You are covered by Workers’ Compensation when you are injured at work or suffer an occupational disease. Many people injure themselves without knowing it. Arthritis, heart attacks, back and joint pain may be caused by your work, even though there is no particular injury that you can point to or remember. Emotional stress can produce emotional trauma which affects your ability to hold your job, and can produce physical illness as well.
You have the right to file a doctor preference form with the District. Without a form on file, you will be treated by a District-chosen physician.
When you are injured on the job:
- If you have had a specific injury, report it immediately.
- If you have an illness which might be caused or aggravated by your working conditions, consult your SJTA representative as soon as possible, and before you bring the matter to the attention of your employer. Such illnesses should not be discussed with the administration before you have obtained expert advice.
- Always notify your SJTA representative of any serious injury. The law dealing with on-the-job accidents and illness are complicated. Do not try to go it alone. You may lose important benefits that you are not even aware of.
- Always get legal advice or consult your SJTA representative if your accident results from another’s negligence, or failure to observe safe practices. If someone other than your employer or a co-worker contributed to the accident, a lawsuit may be possible, in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. You may then be entitled to full reimbursement of your wage loss, compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages not provided for are fully reimbursed under the workers’ compensation laws. A third party, such as a student or visitor, building contractor working on school property, or manufacturer of school equipment or supplies may be legally responsible for your accident even though you don’t realize it. Let an expert find out for you. Don’t try to decide for yourself.
If You Run Into Problems:
- Never argue with school administrators about your workers’ compensation benefits. Your claim is processed by an independent adjusting agency. Other school employees have nothing to say about it, one way or the other. They often misunderstand the law, and may give incorrect advice.
- Do not try to deal with a claim’s examiner on your own. They are experts employed by the insurance company or the School District and do not represent you. CTA has legal experts who do not work for the District and will act in your best interest.