No matter how normal or safe a profession may seem, there is always a chance that you might be in an unavoidable situation where an injury might occur. Whether you work on oil drilling platforms, as a commercial fisherman, a construction worker, or even an office assistant, you still come into constant contact with many things over the course of the day that might harm you.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, private industry employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries occurred in 2020. However, 2.7 million injuries is a decrease in the number of workplace injuries from 2.8 million in 2019; it still does not go without saying that there are a large number of Americans who suffer an injury while at their place of employment every year. Along with the physical injury, people can also be in mental agony because you fear your employer will take action against you if you seek workers' compensation.

That is why here at The Cochran Firm, we have a team of dedicated attorneys ready to represent you during your workers' compensation battle so that you don't have to bear the weight of those dreaded outcomes or fight for your rights alone.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers' compensation, sometimes referred to as "workers comp," is a legally mandated program that provides payments to workers who are harmed or ill on the job as a result of their work.  

History Of Workers’ Compensation

One of the earliest examples of a workers' compensation system dates back to 2050 B.C. when a law passed in Ancient Sumeria granted workers compensation for their injuries. Similar laws were also put in place in Ancient Greece, China, and many other parts of the world.

Fast forward to 1760, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a boom in making goods with new machines and at very large scales. Hand and hand with large-scale production and new machinery comes a potential for hazardous work conditions. During this era, workers who sustained an injury during work relied on court systems to be compensated for their injuries. 

Jump ahead another 150 years to 1911. It was not until 1911 that The United States began passing state workers' compensation laws, with the state of Wisconsin being the first to do so. In the next nine years, 36 additional states passed workers' compensation laws, and it was not until 1948 that the final state, Mississippi, enacted workers' compensation laws for their employees.

U.S. Workers’ Compensation Law History

  • 1908: Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA)- This law was enacted to protect and compensate railroad workers that were injured on the job.  
  • 1911: Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Act- Is known as the first law passed by a state to fully encompass workers’ compensation.
  • 1948: Mississippi Passes Workers’ Compensation Act – Mississippi is known as the last state to pass a law for workers’ compensation.
  • 1990: Americans With Disabilities Act- This act was passed in order to require all workplaces to be handicap accessible, which grants employees with a disability reasonable accommodations to work in a safe environment.

When Is A Lawyer Needed In A Workers Compensation Claim? 

While statistics show you how common workplace incidents and injuries are, they do not help you with the fact of knowing what to do next when you are injured on the job. Even though workers' compensation claims are not the most complex of litigations, knowing when to hire an attorney and having the right attorney to represent you is key for workers' compensation claims. Listed below are circumstances that might arise and be the most critical situations for having an attorney present.

  • Your employer denies your claim.
  • Not all of your lost pay and damages are covered by your employer's settlement.
  • Your medical condition prevents you from returning to work or requires significant limitations to what you can do at work. 
  • You were injured because of a third party's actions or serious misconduct from your employer. 

If you have been injured at work, a workers' compensation lawyer can assist you in comprehending the complexities of benefits and help you get the maximum amount you are entitled to. Contact The Cochran Firm today to schedule your no-obligation free consultation to help seek justice and receive the compensation you deserve.  

Steps On Filing A Workers Compensation Claim

  1. You must report an accident or injury to your employer- As an employee, you will need to make sure your employer knows if you become ill or injured on the job, you will need to inform them as soon as you are able.
  2. Your employer should guide you through the necessary paperwork- Once you've notified your employer of the injury or accident, your employer will need to provide you with information on your rights and workers' comp benefits, as well as your return to work.
  3. Your employer should report the accident and file the claim- The claim form and any supporting documents should typically be sent to the workers' compensation insurance provider by the employer. Keep in mind that your doctor will also need to submit a medical report.
  4. The insurer approves or denies the claim- Once the claim is filed, it will be in the hands of the insurer whether they approve or deny your claim.
  5. You return to work if able- Once you have recovered from an injury and are able to return to work, you are required to provide written notice to both your employer and the insurance company. Depending on the severity of the injury, the insurance company may have to pay permanent disability benefits. Additionally, many employers choose to implement a formal return to work program aimed at getting workers back to work and productive as quickly as possible.

As these steps might seem very self-explanatory, they do come with their own set of challenges. That is why it is imperative for you to seek the help you deserve by contacting a dedicated attorney at The Cochran Firm. At The Cochran Firm, our personal injury attorneys and trial lawyers are dedicated to providing the highest quality legal representation for injured people and their loved ones. Contact us today for your free no-obligation consultation so that you can begin to receive the compensation you are entitled to.   

What To Do If Your Claim Is Denied? 

First off, you have to understand that employers or their insurance companies sometimes look for any possible reason to deny your workers' compensation claim. There are several common reasons for claim denials, including:

  • Missed deadlines.
  • Disputes over whether the injury is work-related
  • Your injury does not meet state guidelines
  • You filed a claim after you left your job

If your employer states that one of these stipulations has been compromised, but you feel as if that is not true, contact a workers' compensation attorney today. Workers' compensation attorneys are able to help answer all of your questions regarding the denial of your claim and will help fight for your claim. 

Appealing A Workers’ Compensation Denial

Once you have been notified of why your claim was denied, you will be able to start the appeal process. The letter you receive stating your denial should also include a deadline for you to file an appeal, keep in mind the appeal deadline will vary from state to state. 

In some instances, a denial can be as simple as a clerical error or misunderstanding and can be resolved fairly easily, so be sure to speak with your employer or your employer's insurance carrier to better determine the reason for the denial. 

Once you have spoken with your employer or their insurance carrier and want to appeal the workers' compensation denial, you will need to contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney. To allow your attorney to have the best chance at appealing your workers' compensation denial, you will need to provide any documents, including any medical records, that show the reason for the denial. A couple of examples of documents you would provide to your attorney would be a second medical examination or a timesheet showing you working at the time that the injury happened. 

Do not feel deflated if you receive a workers' compensation denial letter. Your denial may be successfully appealed in many cases, but you will want to work with experienced legal professionals at The Cochran Firm. Our attorneys have many years of experience in workers' compensation and are here, ready to defend you and your rights. Contact The Cochran Firm today for your no-obligation free consultation to seek the compensation you deserve. 

Employers Legal Obligations Under Workers Compensation Laws

Including insurance, employers also have a number of other obligations that they must carry out as well under state workers' compensation laws, such as posting notices and advising employees of their legal rights, and providing claim forms to injured employees. 

An employer is required to post notices in convenient locations that are frequented by employees during work hours. The poster or notice must include:

  • Important information about employees' rights, including the right to receive medical treatment.
  • Details about available workers' compensation benefits.
  • Indicate who is in charge of adjusting claims, the name of the company's workers' compensation carrier, or the information that the business is self-insured.

Employers are obligated to provide injured employees with workers' compensation claim forms within 24 hours after the employee has given notice of the job injury. Employers must also supply the employee with written information (usually a pamphlet) about the employee's rights under the workers' compensation system.

Additional Laws And Regulations For Workers’ Compensation And Benefits

In addition to the normal laws that govern workers’ compensation. There are some occupations that do not fall under the standard workers' compensation, and for that, there have been several acts put in place to bridge the gap and allow for these employees to have a form of workers' compensation. 

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920

A federal statute known as the Jones Act, or the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, offers much-needed protection to seamen who risk life and limb in order to avoid dangers on the high seas and in other navigable waterways.

Having the Jones Act in place is a huge step for commercial marine workers being that they are not entitled to workers' compensation benefits, unlike land-based workers. The Jones Act provides a remedy for workers who suffer injuries while working on a vessel due to a lack of safety or negligence from their employer. 

Additionally, the Jones Act applies to oil rigs in the same respect that it applies to people working on fishing boats, cruise ships, and container ships.

Who Is Eligible To File A Jones Act Claim?

To be able to file a Jones Act claim, you must be employed as a vessel crewmember and have spent 30 percent of your career on a vessel. The Jones Act is very similar to that of workers' compensation due to the fact that the Jones Act covers the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and room and board during recovery.

Additionally, the Jones Act permits seamen to receive a larger sum of money as compensation for pain and suffering, future income, and medical costs in the event of catastrophic injuries like limb loss, paralysis, or wrongful death if the damage sustained prevents them from returning to work.

If you or a loved one were hurt while working on the water, you should speak with an experienced maritime lawyer to see if the Jones Act applies to your case. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, contact The Cochran Firm today.

The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969

On December 20th, 1969, The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, which offered compensation for miners suffering from Black Lung Disease, was passed into law by President Nixon thanks to the United Mine Workers' successful efforts to persuade the U.S. Congress to do so. Black lung disease is a term encompassing a variety of lung diseases caused by exposure to coal mine dust, including pneumoconiosis (CWP), silicosis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The primary goal of the law is to provide uniform national standards for coal mining health and safety. Additionally, it has an income-maintenance clause that is unusually interesting since it delegated temporary responsibility for workmen's compensation to the federal government.

Who May File A Black Lung Benefits Claim? 

Any active and former coal miners (as well as specific transportation and construction workers who were exposed to coal mine dust) and their surviving dependents, such as surviving spouses, orphaned children, adult children with disabilities, and fully dependent parents, brothers, and sisters, may file a claim.

Federal Employers Liability Act

The Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA controls the ability of railroad employees to sue their employer for damages if they are injured, become ill, or killed while working as a result of the carelessness of their employer. A railroad worker's personal representative has the right to file a lawsuit against their employer on behalf of the deceased worker's surviving spouse, children, parents, or other dependent relatives. A railroad employer will be held responsible for any employee injuries that are wholly or partially the consequence of the company's carelessness.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA)

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal law that covers the payment of benefits to employees who become disabled due to work-related accidents that happen on navigable waters in the United States or in nearby areas that are typically used for loading, unloading, repairing, or building vessels. It also covers the provision of medical care and vocational rehabilitation services.

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) may provide coverage if the oil rig where you now work does not fulfill the requirements of the Jone Act.

Who Is Eligible For LHWCA?

Compared to the benefits offered by many state workers' compensation statutes, LHWCA benefits are typically more beneficial to the injured worker. Additionally, the LHWCA allows injured employees to obtain payments for permanent partial disability, although other state workers' compensation laws do not. But to help answer the question of who is eligible for LHWCA benefits, the LHWCA has set two tests in place called the status and situs tests.  

The Status Test

The kind of work that the employee performs for the company is a factor in the status test. An employee must do at least a portion of "maritime" responsibilities for the company in order to qualify for benefits under the LHWCA. This implies that a sizable portion of the employee's employment must include the use of water or maritime transportation.

The Situs Test 

The situs test is the second evaluation criterion for LHWCA coverage. The situs test focuses on the area where the employee often performs work for the business. The LHWCA only applies to maritime workers who perform their duties on, near, or close to navigable water. Additionally, individuals will often pass the situs test if they spend at least a portion of their time working on piers, wharves, dry docks, terminals, or other locations frequently utilized by an employer while loading, unloading, repairing, disassembling, or building a vessel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do if I am injured at work?

A: Following an accident at work, you should report the injury as soon as possible to your employer. Even if you do not think you are injured, you should still report the accident because some injuries do not become noticeable until after the incident. 

Q: Do I need an attorney to help with my workers' compensation claim? 

A: Depending on how severe the injury is or if you think you might be disabled for an extended amount of time, you might want to consider seeking an attorney. 

Q: What if my employer does not have workers' compensation insurance? 

A: If your company does not have workers' compensation insurance and you are injured on the job, you will have the opportunity to sue the employer in civil court. Additionally, employers who do not have the legally required insurance may potentially face steep fines and criminal charges. 

Q: What qualifies as a work-related accident?

A: A work-related accident is one that happens while you are on the clock and doing something on behalf of your employer. This includes company parties and other social events hosted by your employer but not necessarily on company property. 

Why The Cochran Firm

If you have suffered a workplace accident, it is important that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. Unfortunately, obtaining workers' compensation benefits can be intimidating and frustrating. A small mistake in your application and/or claim can cause your workers' compensation to be denied, leaving you out of work and without income.

If you need to file for Workers' Compensation or your application/ claim has been denied, please contact the qualified and aggressive attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We have offices throughout the United States and can help you get the benefits you need and deserve

Works Cited

“Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2020.” Bureau of Labor Statistics,

“45 U.S. Code § 51 - Liability of common carriers by railroad, in interstate or foreign commerce, for injuries to employees from negligence; employee defined.” Law.Cornell.Edu,

Guide, Step. “Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act Frequently Asked Questions.” U.S. Department of Labor, 

“Jones Act | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute.” Law.Cornell.Edu,

“1969 – Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act passed.” Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA),“Pneumoconiosis.” Johns Hopkins Medicine,