State law defines how injured or sick employees in this state can qualify for Delaware workers’ compensation benefits. (Federal employees are the lone exception, since state law doesn’t apply to those workers’ comp claims.) If you’re hurt or sick while on the job, learn how to apply for Delaware workers’ compensation benefits below. Then, see how the Delaware workers’ compensation program changed from 2013-2017 in our interactive chart.
How to Apply for Delaware Workers’ Compensation Benefits
According to the Division of Industrial Affairs (DIA), employers with at least one employee must carry Delaware workers’ compensation coverage. Farm workers and independent contractors, however, are exempt. Follow these steps to apply for Delaware workers’ compensation benefits:
- You must inform your employer about your workplace injury or illness in writing and request medical care. You can choose which doctor to see. If you need emergency medical care, get that first! However, you must give notice in writing within 90 days after a workplace injury accident. Otherwise, you have two years to file your workers’ compensation claim.
- Your employer must file a First Report of Occupational Injury or Disease form within 10 days. State law requires your employer to file this form with their insurer and the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). Failure to do so in a timely manner will result in a $100-$250 fine.
- If your claim’s approved, medical benefits begin on day one; lost wages on day four. Your employer should pay all medical expenses starting on the accident date. If you miss more than three days at work, you’ll qualify for lost wage benefits, too. To see how much you’ll get paid for lost wages, see the compensation rate chart here.
- If your claim’s denied, you have two years to appeal. To do this, you must file a petition asking the OWC to review your claim.
- You have 45 days to appeal a second time if the OWC denies your claim. If this happens, you’ll need to request a hearing before the Delaware Industrial Accident Board.
Every Delaware workers’ compensation case is unique, so your experience may vary.
Delaware Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2013-2017
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes an annual report on workers’ compensation programs from most U.S. states. This report lists:
- Total claims filed in each state
- Who missed work, received job restrictions or transferred positions
- Claim information for each job sector
Below, you can see how the Delaware workers’ compensation program changed between 2013 and 2017:
The Delaware workers’ compensation program is one of the most stable we’ve ever seen. The only notable change is that total claims filed saw a 15% drop in total claims filed fell 12% from 2016-2017. Every year, about half the claims filed came from injured employees who missed work, changed jobs or received restrictions. Only these people had injuries bad enough to qualify for lost wage benefits. In most years, service-industry employees make up about 68% of all workers’ comp claims.
The lone exception happened in 2017, when it jumped to 76%. That change isn’t particularly interesting, because fewer workers in service jobs reported injuries than the previous year (6,800 vs. 6,700). The drop in overall claims (10,100 in 2016 vs. 8,800 in 2017) explains the service industry’s drastic single-year percentage change.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
The Delaware workers’ compensation process is fairly clear — unless you’re appealing a denied claim. For example: State law requires your employer to have attorney representation at your appeal. You deserve to come to the table equally prepared to defend your case. If you make it to the hearing stage, things get even more complicated. At that stage, you must provide a medical witness to testify, or arrange (and pay for) a pre-trial deposition. State law makes this mandatory, so we strongly recommend talking to a Delaware workers’ compensation attorney first!
You should also consult also a workers’ comp attorney if you have any preexisting health conditions. They’re the number-one reason for denied workers’ comp claims today. These lawyers always work on contingency, so you’ll pay nothing for legal assistance unless you win. And if you do win, then you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free workers’ compensation benefits evaluation online now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.