Understanding Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

Were you injured on the job, or hurt in the course of your duties? Workers’ compensation can help you recover. If you have questions about your claim, Silverman, McDonald & Friedman can help. Schedule a free consultation with us in Seaford, Newark, or Wilmington today.

Almost every employee who works in Delaware is eligible for workers’ compensation in the event of an occupational illness or injury.

Understanding Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation Laws

This no-fault benefits system for employees ensures your finances are kept secure while you focus on recovery, providing compensation for all medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses that you may have due to your circumstances. These benefits could very well be the difference between keeping you and your family financially safe and potentially losing everything due to an uncontrollable accident.

That being said, workers’ compensation benefits are not automatic. There are steps a worker must take and laws to understand for a claim to be accepted in the event of a workplace injury or illness.

Steps to ensure your Delaware workers’ compensation claim is accepted

While we may like to think we will never be involved in a life-altering accident, the truth is there is just no way to know for sure. If it happens, it may happen at work — and you should know what to do: Inform your employer that you were injured as quickly as possible. You have 90 days at most to inform your employer about an injury, and up to six months (180 days) to notify an employer about a work-related illness. Make sure your notice is put in writing.

  • See a doctor as soon as possible, and follow the treatment plan you are given. Always attend appointments and keep records of all notes, diagnoses, prescriptions, and bills. If you are asked to attend an independent medical exam (IME), GO. Failure to do so can mean your claim is denied. Just know that you are not required to follow this doctor’s treatment plan; you can continue to treat with your own doctor.
  • Tell your employer if your work injury or illness prevents you from working, per doctor’s orders. This preserves your right to collect lost wages while you are out recovering.

What is my employer supposed to do?

Your employer, once told of your injury, has to file a report (in writing) within 10 days to the Office of Workers’ Compensation, and to their insurance carrier. Then, they have to provide all medical treatments, and figure out what your weekly wage loss benefit will be.

If you and your employer can’t agree about your benefits, file your petition with the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) for a hearing about your case. If your claim is denied, you have two years to file a petition with the OWC. You’re not required to have an attorney, but hiring one is in your best interest. After all, your employer will have an attorney, and you want to make sure you’re prepared.

How long can you be on workers’ compensation in Delaware?

When it comes to the time limits imposed on workers’ compensation benefits, it largely depends on what sort of benefits the worker is receiving. Those benefits, of course, depend on the nature of the injuries or illness in question, including any permanent accommodations or changes to the way someone can perform the duties of their job. Typically, the more severe and permanent the injuries, the longer you may receive your benefits.

In Delaware, benefits are divvied up into the following categories:

  • Temporary total disability benefits, where the maximum weeks is based on the duration of your disability.
  • Temporary partial benefits, which may be received for up to 300 weeks.
  • Permanent impairment disability benefits may be received for the rest of the claimant’s life, depending on the loss involved.
  • Disfigurement benefits is paid out up to 150 weeks, depending on the severity.

What if a third-party is to blame for my injuries?

Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, “blame” doesn’t really factor into claims. By accepting workers’ compensation benefits, you basically agree to give up your right to a jury trial to collect damages.

But in some cases, the cause of your injury may be a third-party, like the manufacturer of a defective product. If this is the case, you can still pursue additional compensation from that third party. For example, if a defective machine press costs you your arm, you can file a lawsuit against the press manufacturer. Should you go this route and are successful in your claim, you may have to pay back the benefits you received for workers’ compensation. It’s a complex issue, so make sure to speak with one of us about your options, and what would be best for your specific needs.

This is a very general look into the benefits that may be available to an injured worker. Each worker’s exact circumstances will dictate how they should pursue a claim.  For this reason, it is paramount you find a worker’s compensation attorney you trust sooner rather than later to make sure you are not taken advantage of when you are at your most vulnerable. Someone with an intimate knowledge of Delaware’s laws can make sure they are used in your favor rather than against. No matter how complicated or convoluted you believe your case is, you should never simply assume you are ineligible without consulting an attorney.

Making the right decisions now can have a large impact on your financial future, especially if your injuries or occupational illness is going to keep you out of work for a significant amount of time. Even if your claim was denied, you do not have to accept it – but you do have to get started as quickly as possible.

The Delaware workers’ compensation attorneys at Silverman, McDonald & Friedman work on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not have to pay a dime in legal fees unless we win you the benefits you are owed. We understand how important your finances are and we will work tirelessly to protect them on your behalf so you can focus on getting better and being with your family. No injured worker should have to worry about losing everything after an occupational accident. Our team knows how to build and plead your case, appeal any denials, and help you every step of the way. With offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford, we can be right where you need us, when you need us. Call us today to learn more at 302-888-2900 or use our contact form.