New Hampshire law requires all private employers to have workers' compensation insurance. Worker's comp pays for medical bills, lost wages, and permanent disabilities suffered by workers who are injured on the job. To take advantage of these benefits, workers must take certain steps required by New Hampshire law.
Like most other states, New Hampshire workers' comp covers injuries that happen in the course of employment. This means that if you were injured while performing work duties or running work errands, your injury will typically be covered by workers' comp. On the other hand, if you were injured during your lunch break or during your commute to and from work, your injury will typically not be covered by workers' comp.
Workers' compensation covers both traumatic injuries and occupational illnesses. Traumatic injuries are those that result from a one-time accident at work, such as a broken bone from a slip and fall. Occupational diseases are injuries or illnesses that occur over a period of time, including injuries caused by repetitive movements at work(such as carpal tunnel syndrome) and illnesses developed from exposure to toxic substances at the workplace(such as cancer from exposure to asbestos).
If you are injured at work, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. Your employer can provide you with the necessary form to report your injury (Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease, Form 8aWCA). Although you have up to two years to report your injury to your employer without losing benefits, it's best to give notice right away. You must also file a claim for benefits within three years after the date of your accident or injury.
If your employer's insurance company has a managed care system, you must select a doctor in its network. If there is no managed care system, you are free to choose any doctor you wish. Let your doctor know that your injury is work-related. Your doctor should bill the insurance company directly for your treatment.
In addition to having your medical bills paid for all reasonably and necessary treatment, you are eligible to receive temporary disability payments and a permanent disability award.
If you are unable to work while recovering from your injuries, you will be eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits. These benefits are 60% of your average weekly wages, but no more than $1,537.50 and no less than $307.50 per week (as of July 1, 2017). You can continue to receive temporary total disability until you return to work or until your doctor finds that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning that your condition is not expected to improve further.
If you are still unable to work in any gainful employment after reaching MMI, you can receive permanent total disability benefits. These benefits are only for the most serious injuries and continue for as long as you are totally disabled.
If you are able to work while you are recovering, but you are earning less because of work restrictions, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits (TPD). TPD benefits are 60% of the difference in your pre-injury and post-injury earnings. You can receive these benefits for up to 262 weeks.
After reaching MMI, you will be evaluated by a doctor for a permanent injury. If you have a partial disability, you can receive a permanent impairment award. You can receive weekly benefits for a certain number of weeks, depending on the body part injured and the percent loss of use assigned by your doctor. For example, in New Hampshire, the total loss of use of a leg is worth 140 weeks of payment. If you have a 50% loss of use, you can receive 70 weeks' worth of payments.
If your workers' comp claim has been denied, or the insurance company is disputing any portion of your claim, you can file a petition for a hearing before an administrative officer. If you disagree with the officer's decision, you may file an appeal with the Compensation Appeals Board. For more information on the appeals process, see our article on appealing a denial of your New Hampshire workers' comp claim.