Many countries have a compensation program that offers wage replacement and medical coverage to workers who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. Within the United States, each state administers its own workers' compensation program. Federal employees in the United States are also covered under one of four workers' compensation programs: the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program; the Federal Employees' Compensation Program; the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Program; and the Black Lung Benefits Program. Eligible federal employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job may receive benefits under one of these programs. A federal workers' compensation attorney is an attorney who represents workers throughout the claims process.
The concept behind workers' compensation is to provide financial assistance and medical treatment to employees who are injured on the job or become ill as a result of their employment without the need for costly and lengthy litigation. Unlike the requirement that the plaintiff prove negligence on the part of the defendant in most civil injury cases, in a workers' compensation case, the worker must only prove that the illness or injury was the result of his or her employment, regardless of whether the employer was negligent. The federal workers' compensation system works essentially the same way as the state systems, only it is for federal employees. As a result, a federal workers' compensation attorney does much of the same job as an attorney who handles state workers' compensation claims.
An injured employee is not required to retain the services of a federal workers' compensation attorney in order to file a claim, but may do so if he or she chooses. The claims process begins by the employee submitting a claim to the appropriate office, which will vary depending on what agency the employee works for and where the employee lives. Once the claim has been filed, the employer will also be required to file a statement, essentially either agreeing with the employee or denying the employee's claim. A decision to approve or to deny the claim will then be made. A federal workers' compensation attorney may help a claimant file the initial claim in order to make sure that it is not denied for technical errors, or to give the claimant additional assurance that the claim will be approved.
In some cases, however, a claim is denied. Although a claim can be denied for a number of reasons, the most common reason is that it is not clear that the injury or illness is a direct result of the worker's employment. When a claim is denied, a worker may appeal the decision. At this stage, a claimant is more likely to need the services of a federal workers' compensation attorney. A federal workers' compensation attorney will investigate the employee's claim and represent him or her at the appeal hearing, which will be held in front of an administrative law judge. The attorney should be familiar with not only the law as it applies to federal workers' compensation claims, but also with the procedures involved in getting a claim approved.