Frequently Asked Questions about Worker’s Compensation

Q:  What is Workers’ Compensation?

A:  Workers’ Compensation is a self-contained set of laws that provide benefits to workers who are injured, made sick or disabled as a result of an injury at work or their occupational duties. Workers’ Compensation Acts vary from state to state, but typically provide no-fault compensation for a percentage of lost wages, medical treatment for the injury or disease, permanent disability awards and, in the event of death, payment of benefits to the worker’s surviving spouse or dependents.

Q:  What do I get for my pain and suffering?

A:  There are no benefits available specifically for pain and suffering. However, pain and suffering may lead to mental health conditions which may be covered by way of medical treatment and a permanent impairment award.

Q: Can a Workers’ Compensation claim be reopened after it has been closed?

A: Yes, for a claim to be reopened, you must file an Application to Reopen with the assistance of a physician and identify one or more objective medical findings of a worsened condition or identify a new condition that is related to the industrial injury or disease.

Q: Can I sue my employer for causing my injury? What happens if my own negligence caused my injury?

A: You cannot sue your employer for negligence. Workers’ Compensation is a “no-fault” system which means workers do not have to prove their employer was negligent and workers have a right to benefits even if they are at fault or caused their own injury. In exchange for not having to prove negligence, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy and employers are immune from a lawsuit, except in a situation where the employer intentially caused injury to a worker.

Q: What if my accident was caused by the negligence of someone other than myself, my employer or co-worker?

A: You can sue for negligence if your injuries were caused by the actions of a third-party. A worker can receive Workers’ Compensation benefits while pursuing the third-party claim. Any lawsuit against a third-party must be brought within the applicable statute of limitations. The Department and/or self-insured employer will have a lien on any third-party recovery.

Q: Who is entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits?

A: In New Mexico, all workers injured or disabled while in the course of are covered. This includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, sporadic and temporary workers. And, you are eligible to file for Workers’ Compensation benefits regardless of whether you are a U.S. citizen, your employer is not insured for Workers’ Compensation, your employer has gone out of business or your employer says you are not eligible.

Q: My Employer or the Department want me to go to a medical evaluation they call an Independent Medical Examination. Do I have to go?

A: The answer is usually yes. The Department and self-insured employers have a right to request you attend such examinations at reasonable intervals of time. If you refuse to go, the Department may find you non-cooperative and terminate your benefits.

Q: My employer denied my claim. What can I do?

A: If your claim is denied, call my law office immediately for help. We will uncover the reason for the denial and explain the situation with your case. We will file for a court date on your behalf. We will go to trial so your story may be heard before a judge. We are your advocates! However, please remember to call us as soon as possible. Workers’ compensation claims have time limits.

Q: Can I afford an attorney to handle my claim if I am unable to work?

A: Yes, my Firm will guide you through the workers’ compensation process. Our firm has a contingency fee contract, which means you do not have any up-front cost for representation. Our firm recovers fees based on benefits we earn for you!

Q: What can I do about my lost wages?

A: If you are injured at work, you may receive income benefits. We recommend that you contact my Firm to discuss any benefits due to you.

Q: Who pays for my medical treatment when I was hurt at work?

A: If you have been injured at work, your employer should pay for your medical treatment.

Contact my Firm’s office immediately to discuss options for your medical care. We can be contacted by phone (505) 247-2222, or our Free Workers’ Compensation Form.