Workers across New Mexico give a lot to their jobs. They show up every day ready to contribute their time, talent, and energy to their employers and co-workers. In return, they earn both satisfaction and financial security. Unfortunately, this balance is often disrupted by work accidents, illnesses, and injuries. This year, more than 11,000 workers experienced an illness or injury on the job, which caused them physical pain, forced them to miss work, and created a significant amount of stress.
To help injured workers and their families overcome these challenges, the government mandates workers’ compensation benefits in every state. Workers’ compensation can provide the vital medical care and wage replacement payments to ensure that injured workers can make as full a recovery as possible and move forward from the injury successfully. At The Injury and Disability Law Center, workers' compensation attorneys Josh Worley and Jeremy Worley lead a legal team that helps New Mexico workers understand their rights and fight for the maximum amount of compensation available.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a benefits system similar to health insurance that provides medical care and wage replacement to employees who have suffered a work-related illness or injury. New Mexico has particularly inclusive laws when it comes to mandating workers’ compensation insurance coverage for employers. Employers with three or more employees and all employers in the construction industry are required to offer these benefits to employees. A number of different indemnity benefits are available to cover a variety of situations, including:
- Temporary Total Disability – Temporary total benefits are offered to workers who are unable to work at all for a period of time after an injury but are expected to recover.
- Temporary Partial Disability – In some cases, an injured worker can continue to work in a different or diminished capacity after the injury. These benefits help to bridge the gap between the worker’s normal wage and the reduced wage during the recovery period.
- Permanent Partial Disability – Similar to temporary partial disability, a worker may be able to continue working in some capacity after an injury. Unfortunately, workers with a permanent partial disability will reach a maximum medical recovery that is not a full recovery. These benefits address their diminished employment capabilities going forward.
- Permanent Total Disability – In New Mexico, workers who suffer a brain injury or the permanent or total loss of use of both hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or any two of those body parts would be eligible for permanent benefits. These weekly benefits are payable for life.
- Death Benefits – Also known as survivor benefits, this compensation is available to the family members of workers who die as a result of their job-related illness or injury. It can include both weekly payments and a sum for funeral expenses.
What Types of Injuries Qualify for New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
In general, any illness or injury that arises out of the course of employment can be compensated under the workers’ compensation system. This is a broad rule that can be applied to a wide variety of situations. Some common work injuries can arise from:
- Accidents at your place of employment
- Accidents on a job site
- Vehicle accidents traveling on work business
- Repetitive injuries that develop over time due to work conditions
- Injuries at company parties or social events
How Does the Workers’ Compensation System Work in New Mexico?
The workers’ compensation system is critical in promoting the recovery and stability of workers, but it can feel overwhelming to face the process after a work injury. If you are hurt on the job and you require emergency care, seek that care as soon as possible from the closest appropriate medical provider. Emergency care is covered by workers’ compensation.
If your injury does not require medical care, state law sets the benefits process to the following:
- Injured worker reports the injury. The law requires injured workers to report the injury to their employer within 15 days and fill out a notice of accident form. Failure to report an injury within this time frame could result in a denial of benefits.
- Employer files report of injury with the insurance carrier. From there, the employer will file the first report of injury with the insurance carrier. This will notify the insurance company to begin investigating the claim to determine benefits.
- Employer provides information about how and where to seek care. In New Mexico, employers have the right to choose the provider for the care, though they may leave employees free to choose their own doctor. It is important to comply with your employer’s instructions. If you are unhappy with the provider they select, changes can be made at a later time.
- The insurance company approves or denies benefits. After the review of the claim, the insurance company will either approve the benefits and initiate payment, or deny the claim. Compensation on approved claims typically begins about two weeks after an employee has missed seven days of work due to the injury. Denials can be appealed in workers’ compensation court.
Our New Mexico Workers' Compensation Attorneys Can Fight to Protect Your Right to Compensation
Unfortunately, there are many cases in which insurance companies dispute the injury, refuse to offer fair compensation or even unfairly deny benefits outright. New Mexico workers deserve the injury protections the law affords them, and at The Injury and Disability Law Center, our workers' compensation attorneys fight to ensure that injured workers and their families are able to obtain the maximum amount of compensation they deserve. Facing your employer and its insurance company can seem like a daunting task, but our lawyers are here to stand up for our clients’ best interests in every claim.
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury at work, even if you are not sure if you have a claim, call our Roswell office today. You will speak with one of our bilingual case managers, who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. A work injury does not have to prevent you and your family from a safe, stable, and secure future.
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Written by: Darlene Moroney
The Injury and Disability Law Center
Date published: 07/01/2018
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