When you report a work injury to your employer, your employer is required to file a Notice with the New Hampshire Department of Labor. Your employer's insurance carrier then reviews the claim and decides whether to accept it and pay benefits, or to challenge it. If they challenge it, (note: it is common for insurance carriers to challenge claims while they are investigating) you need an attorney to request a hearing and help you through the complex maze of regulations that guide the New Hampshire Department of Labor in deciding whether you are entitled to benefits.
Workers’ compensation has been around for 100 years. It was the first social insurance program to gain widespread acceptance in the United States. Most states passed workers’ compensation laws between 1911 and 1920, and all but two states did so by 1935. In general, these laws provide an administrative forum (the Department of Labor) to quickly process any disputes. There are many examples from the last century that show why states agreed that this was a better process. One example concerns an immigrant worker who lost his leg on the job in 1909. A court returned a verdict in his favor in 1910 and ordered payment of $1,000 in damages. The ruling was appealed by the employer, but upheld in 1911. The money was finally paid in the middle of 1912. After paying lawyers’ fees, doctors’ fees, expert witnesses, and an interpreter, the worker was left with less than $100 – three years after the injury.
What workers' compensation laws did was to accomplish a trade -- it provides a quicker, simpler system for helping injured workers, while protecting employers from expensive lawsuits. When you make a workers' compensation claim, you are not suing your employer; you are getting a workers' compensation insurance company involved in resolving your claim for benefits.
The workers' compensation system provides four basic benefits: lost wages (known as "indemnity benefits" and usually paid at 60% of your average wage), medical bills caused by the work injury, vocational rehabilitation, and if the injury causes permanent damage, there may be a permanent impairment award that follows the schedule at New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated section 281-A:32.
Someone other than your employer or co-employee may have caused your work-related injury. The workers' compensation law encourages you to pursue claims against other parties who caused your injury. These personal injury claims are known as Third Party Claims. When work injury cases involving third parties are resolved, the Department of Labor or the Superior Court in your county will review the resolution. Your attorney will explain the details.
Every case is unique and may require different courses of action, but we will use our workers' compensation experience to help you get every dollar you deserve. We will work with the insurance company on your behalf so you can focus on your medical needs and taking care of your family. We don't collect an attorney fee unless we collect money for you.
If there is an appeal of the decision by the Department of Labor Hearing Officer (either because you lost and want a second review, or because you won and the insurance company has taken an appeal), your case will be reviewed by a 3-member panel known as the Compensation Appeals Board. Our workers' compensation team has decades of experience with the Compensation Appeals Board in this type of appeal, and even more experience at the next level of appeal, the New Hampshire Supreme Court.