Injuries at the workplace are very common. A worker can get injured in their line of duty due to their own or a co-worker’s negligence. But you knew that already! You wouldn’t be looking into this topic otherwise.
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program mandated by the state that provides financial compensation to employees who contracted a work-related disease or suffered an injury.
The affected workers are compensated for their lost work hours as well as their medical bill. They are entitled to receive workers’ compensation even if the fault was theirs. In turn, employees cannot sue their company for the same injury or illness.
However, there are several requirements for these benefits. First, you have to be an employee and your company has to have workers’ comp insurance. Next, you have to prove that the injury occurred at work. You also have to prove that an illness or condition is work-related and caused by your daily work activities. Finally, you need to secure appropriate legal representation to help with your case.
In order to answer the question in the headline, you have to know the answer to the following questions first.
Is the Employer Covered by Workers’ Comp?
Not all employers are covered by the workers’ compensation insurance. The laws vary from state to state, and while in some it is mandatory, in others it isn’t. It largely depends on the type of business your employer runs, how many employees they have, and what type of work they do.
There are also some companies exempt from the rule, such as charities. However, some companies that don’t have a legal obligation to carry coverage still participate in the workers’ compensation program. They do so in order to protect their employees from injury and protect themselves from a lawsuit in case one occurs.
Are You an Employee?
When determining workers’ comp eligibility, not all employees are treated the same. Freelancers, volunteers, consultants or independent contractors, in general, are not considered employees in this case. Therefore, they are not entitled to compensation. There are some exceptions, like freelance firefighters.
Is Your Injury or Illness Work-Related?
If you sustained an injury or contracted a disease as a result of work, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. To put it simply, if you were doing something to benefit your employer and got injured or sick as a result, you are covered by workers’ comp.
For example, if you hurt yourself after a slip and fall accident, injure your back while moving a heavy object or develop a back issue due to bad posture at your desk job, you are covered by workers’ comp.
The injury does not always have to occur at the workplace. For example, if you were picking up some supplies or unloading heavy cargo for a client, you are also eligible for workers’ comp.
However, sometimes it is hard to prove these cases are eligible. For example, in cases where you were injured when running an errand for your boss during your break or during the commute in a company vehicle. In cases when the lines are blurred, you should look for an experienced attorney.
Does it Matter if the Injury was My Fault?
You are eligible for workers’ comp regardless of whether you caused the injury or if it was caused by a coworker. However, if you intentionally hurt yourself or were under the effects of drugs or alcohol, the injury won’t be covered.
Similarly, if your injury occurred as a result of a fight between you and a colleague, the instigator of the conflict will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, the details of the case might sway the court to rule otherwise.