What does Jurisdiction mean?

Jurisdiction refers to the right, power, or authority to apply and interpret the law. It also includes the territory, person, or subject matter which a court or government agency has the power to preside and issue orders over or to adjudicate cases.

Jurisdiction is determined by legislation or constitutional authority. Federal courts are specifically limited by authority given within the constitution. State courts, however, have general jurisdiction and are limited by the laws of the state.

The question of jurisdiction in a workers' compensation case may arise when an employee is injured in one state but is employed in another state. Workers' compensation laws are instituted at the state level, but if more than one state is involved the jurisdictional complexity can increase.

The differences and benefits available can be significant. For instance, although all state programs allow for medical care and wage replacement benefits, some states may allow an employee to choose their own physician, provide vocational rehabilitation, or limit the waiting period for benefits to begin.

So if you are injured in one state but work in another how do you know where to file your workers' compensation claim? According to work compensation experts, generally the state where an injury occurred, where the employment contract was signed, or where the employee works will have jurisdiction. If the employee works in a different state than where the contract was signed the employee may be able to select the state where they would like to file their workers' compensation claim. In some cases, each state may be required to pay a percentage of the work comp benefits.

Who decides issues of jurisdiction?

If there is a jurisdictional question the issue will not be resolved by the insurance company. In this case, the state authorities that have responsibility for workers' compensation issues will determine jurisdiction. Decisions are generally made based on what the authority considers fair and in the best interest of the worker.

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