In Utah, you should receive workers’ compensation benefits when you suffer a workplace injury or occupational illness. Benefits include medical treatment, compensation for wage loss, and other financial assistance. To collect benefits, you must notify your employer and seek medical treatment in a timely manner. If you fail to follow the correct claims procedures, you may lose your right to workers’ compensation.
By law, most employers must have workers’ compensation coverage in Utah. Companies can either purchase a workers’ comp policy from a private insurance company or get permission from the state to be self-insured. (Since self-insured companies fund their own claims, only large and financially stable employers qualify to self-insure.) The Utah Labor Commission’s Industrial Accidents Division oversees all workers’ comp claims in the state.
Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. You do not need to show that your employer acted carelessly in order to receive benefits. Instead, you need only show that your injury occurred at work or was caused by your work activities.
In exchange for this no-fault system, workers are only entitled to specific benefits. You cannot receive compensation for your pain and suffering in a workers’ compensation claim. However, eligible workers may receive:
Unlike many states, Utah workers' comp does not provide vocational rehabilitation (education and training that may help you transition to a new line of work). However, some employers and insurance companies will voluntarily provide vocational rehabilitation.
You are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits until you report your injury or illness. In Utah, you must promptly notify your employer of a work-related injury—either orally or in writing. If you fail to notify your employer of the injury within 180 days, you may lose your right to collect benefits.
However, employees should provide notice and request medical treatment as quickly as possible. Employers and insurance companies are skeptical of delayed claims and tend to deny them. Giving notice and getting treatment early on may improve your chance of getting benefits.
When you notify your employer, provide the following information:
Your employer may also ask you to fill out a written accident report. When completing the report, be as accurate as possible. Accident reports are frequently used as evidence in disputed claims and any inconsistencies may be used against you.
Once you report an injury, your employer should send you to an occupational doctor. If your employer does not have a designated occupational doctor, you may see a doctor of your choosing. Within seven days of your first visit, the doctor must submit a completed Physician’s Initial Report of Injury to the Labor Commission. You should also receive a copy of this form. The doctor should bill your employer's insurer directly for your medical treatment.
If your injury requires more than minor first aid treatment, your employer must also file a report with its insurance company within seven days of your notice. Once it has received your claim, the insurance company will file paperwork with the Labor Commission, investigate your claim, and determine your eligibility for benefits. This may involve:
Under Utah law, the insurance company must either approve or deny your workers’ compensation benefits within 21 days of receiving your claim. (This time period may be extended to 45 days under some circumstances.) If your claim is approved, you will start receiving disability payments and other benefits. Unfortunately, insurance companies deny many workers’ compensation claims.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. To begin the process, you must file an Application for Hearing with the Labor Commission. Unless your claim is very simple, you should consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. The insurance company will have a lawyer, and you may be at a disadvantage if you proceed without an attorney. To learn more, see Should I Hire a Workers' Comp Attorney or Can I Handle My Own Case?