Tag: NM worker's compensation

5 Reasons for NM Worker’s Compensation Claims

NM worker’s compensation claims are filed for several reasons. Maybe you were hurt on the job or had an automobile accident during official travel while on the clock.

Work-related injuries and illnesses can devastate your life. They can strain you physically and financially. Worker’s compensation laws exist in New Mexico to alleviate the burden by providing the support you need.

In this blog, we discuss the 5 most common reasons for NM worker’s compensation claims, plus how you can get fair compensation for work-related illnesses and injuries.

1 – Assault or workplace violence

Assault or other workplace violence has unfortunately become more commonplace. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 20,000 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence.

There were nearly 400 workplace fatalities from incidents of violence according to the latest data from BLS.

Workplace violence includes harassment, physical assault, and verbal threats. You don’t have to tolerate this kind of behavior. Report it to your employer. However, if your employers fails to act and you become injured, you have rights.

If another worker starts a fight with you that causes injuries, you can seek compensatory damages from your employer and your coworker under NM worker’s compensation laws.

Survivors of workplace violence that causes fatalities can seek punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in addition to filing for survivor’s benefits through worker’s compensation.

2 – Car Accidents During Work-Related Travel

If you’re among the roughly 30% of workers in this country who must drive while on the clock, you might find yourself the victim of an automobile accident. Driving on the clock is a common task for many employees, especially those who work in delivery, sales, and transportation roles.

Whatever the reason for being behind the wheel during working hours, you’re covered by NM worker’s compensation laws if you have an accident.

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the U.S.

Your chances of getting hurt while driving for your job depends on several factors, including the type of job, driving conditions, and safety protocols in place. Driving long distances or in hazardous weather conditions increases the likelihood of an accident.

A hearing doctor examines a patient's ear using a special tool to determine hearing loss.
Hearing loss is common in workers who spend their days in loud environments.

3 – Illness caused by workplace conditions

Some workplaces expose employees to hazardous materials or environments that cause them to become ill or develop chronic health conditions. The type of illness varies depending on the industry and type of exposure.

Some of the most common work-related illnesses include:

  • Asbestosis is a chronic respiratory disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Construction workers involved with building renovation are the most likely to suffer from this condition.
  • Hearing loss happens to employees exposed to high levels of noise for long periods. Construction, manufacturing, and transportation workers are the most likely to suffer from this condition.
  • Infection diseases are a hazard for healthcare workers and laboratory technicians who contact infectious agents like hepatitis and tuberculosis.
  • Lung cancer affects workers exposed to certain chemicals and substances on the job, including asbestos, benzene, and diesel exhaust.
  • Reproductive disorders can happen to workers exposed to certain chemicals and substances on the job, like lead and pesticides.
  • Silicosis happens to construction workers and miners who inhale large quantities of silica dust.
  • Skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema happen to workers exposed to hazardous chemicals or irritants on the job.

These are just a few examples of work-related illnesses that can happen to you if your job exposes you to hazardous working conditions. Consult with a NM worker’s compensation attorney if you believe an illness was caused by your work environment.

4 – Occupational diseases

Certain industries, like construction and mining, expose workers to harmful substances and conditions regularly. Workers can develop long-term illnesses or diseases from repeat exposure.

Some of the most common occupational diseases suffered by construction workers and miners include:

  • Black lung disease, also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, is a lung disease caused by inhaling coal dust. Coal miners, power plant workers, and others exposed to coal dust are at risk for developing this occupational disease.
  • Mesothelioma is another lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Construction workers and miners who work around materials containing insulation – cement pipes, roofing materials – are at an increased risk.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders happen more frequently to construction workers and miners. They include back injuries due to the physical demands of the job.
A worker operates a forklift in a warehouse. Machinery malfuctioning and accidents are common causes of NM worker's compensation claims.
Operating machinery like forklifts increases the risk of suffering a workplace accident.

5 – Work-related injuries

NM worker’s compensation claims are commonly filed for injuries sustained on the job.  Accidents, like slips and falls, and repetitive strain or overuse injuries, are among the most frequently cited complaints.

Some examples of work-related accidents that fall into this category include:

  • Burns can happen to workers who handle hot foods and liquids, flames, chemicals, and electrical currents while performing their work duties.
  • Machinery malfunctions and misuse can happen to workers who regularly use drills, forklifts, saws, and other heavy machinery to complete work tasks.
  • Repetitive motion injuries are common in workers who type all day, work on an assembly line, or use vibrating tools. They can end up with conditions like bursitis, carpal tunnel, and tendonitis.
  • Slips and falls can happen in any workplace where employees are exposed to slippery or wet surfaces. They can end up with broken bones, head injuries, and sprains.
  • Strains and sprains are most common in workers who lift heavy objects or complete physically- demanding tasks during their shifts.

Work-related injuries fall under worker’s compensation laws. If you’ve suffered one of the injuries listed above, reach out to a NM worker’s compensation attorney who can help you get fair compensation.

Help with NM worker’s compensation claims

Sometimes employers deny a worker’s compensation claim. If you’re injured or become ill because of your job, you have rights under NM worker’s compensation laws.

Request a free case evaluation with our firm to explore your options.

A man kneels next to a coworker who was hurt on the job until help arrives.

What to Know About NM Worker’s Compensation

New Mexico’s established labor laws and newer legislation work together to protect workers from workplace negligence that leads to serious injuries or even death.

Employers must comply with NM worker’s compensation guidelines or risk fines from the U.S. and NM Departments of Labor and worker’s compensation lawsuits from injured workers seeking fair compensation.

Protecting yourself from workplace injuries isn’t always possible. That’s why you may need to hire a New Mexico personal injury attorney to represent your best interests.

In this blog, we’ll share some of the most common questions about NM worker’s compensation and how to seek help if you want to file a third-party negligence claim against your employer. You’ll learn:

What is worker’s compensation?

The worker’s compensation system in New Mexico is designed to provide benefits to workers who suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses. Employers must buy adequate worker’s compensation insurance coverage to provide cash benefits and medical care to workers who get hurt on the job.

Worker’s compensation coverage also provides survivor benefits to family members of workers killed on the job. They must file a claim to receive coverage.

New Mexico’s Worker’s Compensation Administration (WCA) exists to ensure the efficient and timely delivery of benefits to workers or their surviving family members who qualify. However, that doesn’t mean that employers can’t object to worker’s compensation benefits once you file a claim. Sometimes they can deny your claim, forcing you to pursue legal action.

Part-time workers lay a cement sidewalk. Part-time and seasonal workers are covered by NM worker's compensation laws.
Part-time and seasonal laborers are covered by NM worker’s compensation laws.

Who is covered by NM worker’s compensation laws?

According to New Mexico’s worker’s compensation laws, all employees are covered by benefits if they become injured or ill because of working conditions. The law defines employees as:

  • Anyone who works for a business. This includes family members, part-time employees, full-time employees, and seasonal workers.
  • Business owners. If you own a business and actively work there, you’re covered under NM worker’s compensation laws.
  • Part-time and seasonal workers in the agricultural industry. Even if an employee only works for some of the time each year, they’re still covered under the law.
  • Volunteers for charities, nonprofits, and religious organizations. If you run one of the organizations, in this category, talk to an employment attorney about whether worker’s compensation or general liability insurance is more appropriate.

The law also outlines who is not considered a covered worker in New Mexico. Some of the exceptions include:

  • Executive employees and sole proprietors with a financial interest in the company.
  • Federal employees covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act.
  • Independent contractors.

What injuries and illnesses does NM worker’s compensation cover?

Any injury or illness that happens on the job is covered by NM worker’s compensation benefits. You can get temporary benefits if you have injuries or an illness that prevents you from working during recovery.

Worker’s compensation benefits also include getting the care you need and the funds to pay for it. Generally, if you’re injured or become ill at work, your employer covers the cost of seeing a medical provider and receiving any medications or treatments prescribed for recovery.

Covered injuries and illnesses include:

  • Back injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Hearing loss
  • Muscle sprains, strains, and tears
  • Repetitive movement injuries
  • Slips and falls

Workplace fatalities covered under worker’s compensation include what OSHA refers to as “the fatal four.” They are:

  • Electrocution
  • Falls
  • Crushed between objects
  • Struck by object or equipment

Employers can require you to use a medical provider of their choosing for illnesses and injuries. However, you have a right to seek a second opinion if you disagree with a diagnosis or recommended treatment protocol. Consult with NM worker’s compensation attorney if you believe your rights are being violated.

Circumstances not covered by worker’s compensation

Not all illnesses and injuries suffered at work qualify for coverage under the law. Here are some of the times you can expect your employer to challenge a claim:

  • An illness or injury is self-inflicted (workplace fights fall into this category).
  • Disregard for safety rules and company policies.
  • Engagement in unlawful activities (like DUI while making deliveries for work).
  • Intoxication or working under the influence of controlled substances.
A physical therapist treats someone with a shoulder injury as part of a NM worker's compensation benefit.
Medical treatment for injuries or illnesses suffered on the job is covered by NM worker’s compensation laws.

What benefits are available to injured workers?

NM worker’s compensation provides comprehensive benefits for workers who are injured or become ill on the job. Among the benefits you’re eligible to receive include medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, and wage replacement.

  • Medical treatment includes all necessary medical care related to a work-related illness or injury. Doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, and prescription medications all fall into this category. Assistive devices like wheelchairs are part of medical treatment. 
  • Vocational rehabilitation becomes necessary if your illness or injury prevents you from returning to your regular work duties. Your employer must offer to train you for a new position or find a replacement that’s suitable for your abilities.
  • Wage replacement kicks in when you miss work because of your illness or injury. The severity of your disability determines the amount of wage-replacement benefits you receive.

Sometimes benefit coverage isn’t adequate to meet your needs. For instance, wage replacement might not equal your full salary, which can cause financial hardship. In those situations, you may need to consult a NM worker’s compensation attorney who can pursue legal action to get you the compensation you deserve.

Benefits for fatal workplace accidents

Work-related fatalities fall under worker’s compensation laws. The amount you receive depends on the employer’s coverage. Some of the benefits you can receive for a loved one’s death on the job include:

  • Burial and funeral costs. Most states provide between $5,000 and $10,000 for this benefit.
  • Lost wages. When the death of a loved one causes financial hardship due to lost wages, indemnity benefits usually provide weekly installments equal to up to two-thirds of the deceased’s average weekly compensation.
  • Medical expenses. If your loved one received medical care before they died from their work-related illness or injury, those bills must be covered by the employer.

Sometimes employers push back against survivor benefits. When that happens, request a free case evaluation with a third-party negligence attorney to review your rights and pursue legal action if necessary.

How do you file a NM worker’s compensation claim?

The key to avoiding complications with NM worker’s compensation claims is to notify your employer as soon as possible about your illness or injury.

Once you notify your employer, they should provide you with the necessary forms, called Notice of Accident (NOA), to complete to request your benefits. NOAs must be filed within 15 days of the date of your illness or injury.

Employers can’t refuse to sign or submit an NOA on your behalf. If they do, seek legal advice immediately. You also can contact the ombudsman program at the NM Worker’s Compensation Administration.

Two paramedics treat an employee who was injured on the job.
If you have evidence supporting your worker’s compensation claim and it’s denied, consult with an attorney who can file a third-party negligence lawsuit on your behalf.

What should you do if your claim is denied?

You have the right to appeal the decision if your employer denies your worker’s compensation claim. The New Mexico Worker’s Compensation Administration handles all appeals. You must file it within 15 days of receiving the denial notification.

You may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in worker’s compensation or third-party negligence laws in New Mexico before filing your appeal.

An attorney can file the appeal on your behalf. Sometimes having legal representation on board improves the outcome of your appeal.

Should the administration deny your appeal, you already have an attorney familiar with your case who can immediately file a worker’s compensation lawsuit to seek fair compensation.

Help for on-the-job injuries

Not all worker’s compensation cases end up in a courtroom. A skilled attorney can push for a settlement that’s fair to you and avoids a lengthy trial.

Reach out to Bill Russell and Marcus Cameron for a free case evaluation. We’ll relentlessly seek out fair compensation for worker’s compensation injuries and fatalities.

Call Cameron & Russell for a Free Case Evaluation

Bill Russell and Marcus Cameron are the faces behind Cameron & Russell. We go the extra mile for our clients to pursue personal injury claims and provide criminal defense. We approach every case with a fresh eye to detail and the determination to represent our clients to the fullest extent the law allows. We passionately defend clients facing criminal charges, and relentlessly seek out fair compensation for personal injury claims. No matter your situation, we promise to tirelessly represent your legal needs. 

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