Nothing hits you harder financially than being forced to miss work and have to pay medical bills due to an injury at work. The medical debt resulting from such injury together with lost wages often leads honest workers to bankruptcy. This is especially true in cases where the injury leads to a permanent condition that prevents you from working.
Injuries at the workplace are an inherent risk both employees and employers need to be prepared for. Depending on how seriously both sides take workplace safety, these risks are bigger or smaller. But they are still there, both for construction workers working with heavy loads and dangerous equipment and for a secretary whose bad posture can lead to a permanent injury.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a way to make these situations easier for both parties. Workers’ comp benefits cover medical expenses as well as wages lost due to the injury and more. This is a no-fault, state-mandated program. Workers’ compensation also benefits the employer, as the injured worker cannot press charges and receive workers’ comp benefits.
However, there are still some limitations and requirements. Depending on the state, workers’ compensation may or may not be mandatory. Furthermore, you need solid proof that your injury happened in the line of duty or that your condition is a direct result of your activities at work. In many cases, you will also need to hire a licensed workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process, as the insurance company will fight to rebuke your claim.
In order to know whether you qualify for workers’ compensation, you need to answer these questions first.
Does My Employer Provide Workers’ Compensation Insurance
As previously mentioned, employers in some states aren’t required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their employees. In others, they could get in serious trouble if they don’t provide insurance to their workers. The answer also depends on the type of business your employer runs, how many people are employed and what type of work the company does.
Some companies like charities are not required to provide workers’ comp insurance. But even companies not legally required to provide this type of insurance do so, as it also gives the employer a peace of mind.
What is Your Employment Status?
Not all employees are treated the same when it comes to who can carry workers’ compensation benefits. For example, volunteers, freelancers, consultants or part-time employees are not considered employees when it comes to workers’ comp in that the employer does not need to provide workers’ comp insurance for them. However, there are still exceptions to this rule, so it is a good idea to discuss this with a workers’ compensation expert.
What Caused the Injury?
Workers’ compensation will protect you from an injury or a condition you suffered at work. But in some cases, it might get hard to prove that the injury was caused by your duties at work. For example, it might be difficult to prove that an employee got carpal tunnel syndrome from using the computer at work or sustained a back injury from bad posture if they do the same after they get back home. In grey areas like these, it’s important to consult an unbiased medical expert and an attorney.
Was the Injury Your Fault?
Remember when we said that workers’ compensation is a no-fault program. This means that even if the accident that led to the injury was the workers’ fault, they are still entitled to these benefits. But if you hurt yourself on purpose or under the effects of alcohol or drugs, workers’ compensation will not cover your expenses. The same goes if you got injured in a fight with another colleague.