Workers’ compensation disputes in most states are resolved in an administrative court rather than a judicial court. This is in keeping with the goal of returning the injured worker to productive employment quickly and efficiently. Workers’ compensation courts often follow their own rules of procedure and evidence, and the administrative system typically is more relaxed and speedy than the judicial system. As with judicial courts, parties can represent themselves but frequently hire attorneys for representation.
Workers’ compensation laws require employers to either be self-insured, meaning they must have enough verifiable financial resources to be able to pay workers’ compensation benefits directly to their injured employees, or to purchase private workers’ compensation insurance. Many major insurance companies in the United States offer workers’ compensation policies in various states. Other insurance companies are smaller and may provide coverage in only one or a few states. Some states choose to fund their own insurance companies, either as the state’s exclusive provider or in competition with other private insurers.