Frequently Asked Questions About New Mexico Workers’ Compensation
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Can I receive workers’ compensation if my injury was my fault?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so you’re entitled to benefits regardless of the cause of your accident.
New Mexico Workers’ Compensation
Under the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act, if an employee is hurt due to a work-related accident, he is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault. This means that the employee doesn’t have to prove negligence on the part of his employer in order to receive benefits. Claims can also be processed faster, since there is no burden of proof that must be met, and no long disputes regarding who is to blame for the accident. Workers’ compensation benefits an employee may receive include:
● Lost salary or wages.
● Compensation for permanent disability.
● Rehabilitation expenses.
● Retraining costs.
Workers’ Compensation Benefit Exceptions
Even when a worker is clearly at fault for the accident that caused his injuries, he is still entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, with a few exceptions. If the employer can successfully argue that any of these exceptions apply, the employee will be completely barred from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. These exceptions include:
● Injuries resulting from intoxication.
● Injuries sustained while performing an activity specifically forbidden by the employer.
● Injuries caused by horseplay.
● Intentional, self-inflicted injuries.
● Injuries sustained during a fight.
The Exclusive Remedy Provision
In New Mexico, injured employees are only entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits from their employer, and nothing else. This is known as the exclusive remedy provision, and it applies even when the employer or a coworker caused a worker’s injuries due to gross negligence. Employees are barred from suing their employer for additional compensation, even when the employer is clearly at fault.
Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation laws can be very complex, but an experienced attorney can help workplace injury victims receive the compensation they deserve. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you need professional legal representation. To learn more, contact the Injury & Disability Law Center by using the form on this page.
Which types of lost-wage benefits are available for a work injury in New Mexico?
Lost wage payments intended to compensate injured New Mexico workers for wage loss are known as indemnity benefits.
Types of Indemnity Benefits
There are four types of indemnity benefits available through workers’ compensation in New Mexico:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD). As you might guess from the name, these benefits are provided to workers who are temporarily unable to work due to an injury. TTD payments will be made until the employee returns to work, or until his doctor determines that his condition will no longer improve with further medical treatment. This is known as maximum medical improvement.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD). These benefits are available to injured workers who continue to work, but at a reduced wage or with reduced hours. TPD benefits will continue to be paid until the worker’s wages return to the normal rate or until maximum medical improvement has been reached.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD). These are lifetime benefits that are paid to employees who have suffered debilitating injuries, and who are therefore unable to do any work. Workers who have completely lost the use of both of their hands, arms, legs, feet, or eyes (or any combination of two of these body parts) are entitled to receive PTD compensation. Employees who have suffered a severe brain injury may also qualify for permanent total disability benefits.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). Workers who have permanent limitations, but who are still able to return to work, may be eligible for PPD benefits. These benefits are paid to employees for both scheduled losses and whole body impairments once maximum medical improvement has been reached. A scheduled loss involves an amputation or loss of use of a body part, for which an employee will receive two-thirds of his average weekly wage. All other permanent partial disabilities, such as back, head, neck, and lung injuries, are compensated as whole body impairments.
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help
As you can see, the rules applicable to indemnity benefits in New Mexico are complicated. You need the guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you receive all of the benefits you’re entitled to. To learn more, contact the Injury & Disability Law Center by using the form on this page.
I don't like my workers' compensation treating doctor, can I change?
One of the most common questions we receive about worker’s compensation has to deal with changing doctors. To help explain the law on this issue I will use three examples:
Worker is injured on the job, and he/she goes to the Emergency Department for treatment, and then requires follow up medical care. Who gets to pick the doctor the worker must see for the follow-up treatment?
Answer – Employer. But do not lose hope just yet… Worker is not without rights and options.
What Does New Mexico Law Say?
New Mexico law allows the employer to initially (I repeat, initially) select which doctor you must see. The employer has two options. First, they can select the doctor and the injured worker is required to present for follow up treatment to that doctor. Alternatively, the employer can allow the injured worker to select which doctor to follow up with.
*Important Rule – An injured worker should first check with their employer about who is to select the doctor before continuing treatment. If the employer does not give direction about which doctor to see, the injured worker can select the doctor of their choice.
Let’s assume Employer instructed Worker to see a specific doctor who we’ll call “Employer Doctor”. Is Worker stuck with Employer Doctor permanently? Answer - No.
*Important Rule - If the employer selects the initial doctor, then worker has the automatic right to change to a doctor of worker’s choosing after 60 days of treatment.
After 60 days of treatment, Worker has the automatic right (no filing a motion or court hearing required) to change doctors. Worker must notify Employer by simply completing and sending to Employer a form called the “Notice of Change of Healthcare Provider” which can be found here: (http://www.workerscomp.state.nm.us/NMWCA-Forms).
Let’s now change the facts again and assume Employer did not instruct Worker to see Employer Doctor, and instead allowed Worker to choose the doctor either by expressly telling Worker to choose or by failing to give Worker direction on who to see. Worker then chooses to see “Worker Doctor”. Does Worker get to keep seeing Worker Doctor? Answer - Maybe.
*Important Rule – The same 60-day rule applies equally to both parties. If Worker makes the initial doctor selection, Employer has an automatic right to change doctors simply by completing and sending a Notice of Change of Healthcare Provider to Worker.
Let’s now change the facts again. This time, Worker chose Worker Doctor and treated for 60 days before Employer exercised the right to change Worker Doctor to Employer Doctor. Employer Doctor has been treating Worker for 60 days. Can Worker change back to his/her preferred doctor, Worker Doctor? Answer - Maybe.
*Important Lesson - Any further changes in doctor selection must happen through one of two ways: 1) Agreement of both parties; or 2) By filing a motion with the court and getting a judge to approve the change.
Understand Your Rights
It is impossible to know what a workers’ compensation judge may approve on an issue like that, but it is unlikely a judge will allow Worker or Employer to continue the carousel of changing doctors without a compelling reason to do so. Examples of compelling reasons could be mistreatment, lack of physician qualification, length of treatment, or any other reason that the Worker or Employer could demonstrate to justify another change in treating physician.
In summary, New Mexico law grants Workers important rights and remedies when it comes to selecting the Worker’s health care provider.
Speak To a Roswell New Mexico Workers' Comp Lawyer
Our workers' compensation attorneys are here to answer your questions and explain how workers’ compensation works in New Mexico. Call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Related Workers Compensation Information:
How do I know if my employer carries workers’ compensation insurance in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, almost all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance in the event of an injury on the job. An employer who has personnel in the construction industry must provide workers' comp benefits. Other employers are also required to carry this insurance as long as it has three or more staff members. The owner and family members working in the business are considered employees under this requirement, making the law apply to more workers.
Although New Mexico requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, not all employees will do so.
Ways to Determine If Your Employer Provides Workers’ Comp
There are several things to check if your employer offers workers’ compensation benefits. These include the following:
- Poster. Under New Mexico law, employers are required to post a workers’ compensation poster in a conspicuous space where all staff members can see it. An employer is supposed to fill in the information regarding the workers’ compensation insurance company’s name and contact information on the poster. A Notice of Accident form must be attached to the poster for it to comply with state law.
- Online search. You can search online at the State of New Mexico Worker Compensation Administration to see if your employer is registered as having workers’ compensation insurance.
- Employer. If you cannot determine whether or not an employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, simply ask. An employer hopefully won't have any problem telling you this if complying with this New Mexico law.
- Experienced workers’ compensation attorney. You should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can assist you in determining if your employer provides injury benefits. He can also explain your rights under workers’ compensation laws, file your claim, and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the benefits you deserve.
Do you have questions regarding your rights to workers’ compensation? Even if your employer complies with New Mexico law regarding this insurance, it doesn't mean you won't have to fight to receive what you're entitled to if injured on the job. We're here to answer your questions and explain how workers’ compensation works in New Mexico. Call our office or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our workers compensation attorneys.
Who is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in New Mexico?
If you were injured on the job or suffered an occupational illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to pay medical bills and replace lost wages. Like many other states’ laws, New Mexico’s workers’ compensation program is a no-fault law that provides benefits to injured workers regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident.
Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Almost all employers in our state are required to have workers' compensation insurance. Employers who staff three or more workers must provide workers’ comp benefits to injured workers. An employer and members of his or her family who work at the business are also considered employees. Part-time staff, temporary and seasonal workers, and many agricultural laborers are also considered employees under this rule.
In addition, an employer who has personnel in the construction industry—even if it's less than three employees—is required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Assuming that your employer is required to provide workers’ compensation, you could be entitled to benefits if you can demonstrate the following:
- You are an employee with active standing.
- Your injury or illness was caused during the course of your employment.
Exceptions to Providing Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In limited situations, an employer isn't required to provide workers’ compensation to injured personnel. You wouldn't be eligible for benefits if you're of the following:
- Independent contractor
- Domestic worker
- Real estate salesperson who receives a commission
- Federal employee covered under federal workers’ compensation laws
- Executive who meets certain requirements and has elected not to receive workers’ comp benefits
- Sole proprietor
Contact Our Roswell Office for Help
Even if you're clearly eligible for workers’ compensation and suffered an injury on the job, your employer’s insurance company could deny your claim for benefits. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation to learn about your rights to workers’ compensation benefits and how our legal team can help.