Workers’ compensation is a kind of insurance specifically tailored to protect workers who are injured while on the job. Employers purchase it as something to be offered to their employees in the event that they suffer an injury or illness related to their work. Workers’ compensation can be highly complex, so it’s important to know all the details about it in case you ever require this special type of insurance coverage.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is frequently also referred to as “Workmans’ compensation” or, more commonly, simply as “workers’ comp.” It is a program that is mandated by the state and includes payments as per the law to be made to an employee who suffers an injury while on the job and who is rendered disabled as a result of that injury. In some instances, it also includes serious illness as well. Even the federal government offers workers’ compensation insurance to federal employees. However, each state in the United States has its own workers’ compensation insurance program with its own set of rules and regulations. You can learn more about the benefits available in your state by checking the US Department of Labor’s website under the State Workers’ Compensation official page.
In general, most often, it is possible for an injured employee to obtain workers’ compensation insurance regardless of who was at fault for their injury. One of the benefits of workers’ compensation for employers is that when they offer it, it can protect them from an employee suing the company after becoming injured while working. This is chiefly because the insurance pays for the employee’s medical treatment and other expenses related to their injury or illness.
What Kinds of Incidents are Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
The purpose of workers’ compensation insurance is to cover injuries sustained by workers that result from their carelessness or that of their employers. Generally speaking, the insurance covers a wide range of situations, but there are still limits. States have the ability to make individuals who seek workers’ compensation benefits take tests that check for drug or alcohol abuse. If it is determined that a worker was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time they sustained the injury, the state can deny the workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, benefits can be denied if it is discovered that the injury is self-inflicted, if the injury did not occur while on the job or if the employee violated a company policy or law.
What Types of Expenses Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover?
Workers’ compensation benefit payments for employee injuries are generally fairly modest. It covers the following:
- Medical care for the injury or illness
- Replaces lost income
- Covers the cost of retraining
- Compensates the individual for any permanent injuries
- Provides benefits to survivors of workers who are killed on the job
It is also worth noting that if an individual is receiving workers’ compensation benefits from their employer, they cannot sue the employer. At the same time, the benefits will not cover the person’s pain and suffering.
The portion of workers’ compensation that replaces a worker’s salary is two-thirds, but there is also a fixed maximum amount for which the benefits will not exceed. This money is also not taxed. If the person was earning a fair salary, there shouldn’t be any major problem financially as a result of the fixed amount. Eligibility for wage replacement starts after the individual misses a few days of work due to their injury or illness.
Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover Long-Term and Permanent Injuries?
Workers’ compensation insurance does cover injuries and illnesses that are long-term or that develop over a long period of time as a result of performing a strenuous repetitive activity. For instance, carpal tunnel syndrome is covered.
Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
In general, most types of employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. However, states frequently exclude certain types of workers from being cover. These are as follows:
- Independent contractors
- Business owners
- Employees of private homes
- Farmers and other farm workers
- Maritime employees
- Railroad employees
- Casual workers
Additionally, individuals who work for the federal government are not covered by state workers’ compensation insurance because they are covered by federal workers’ comp. In some cases, states may not enforce the workers’ compensation program when there are less than three to five employees working for a company. However, that varies depending on the state.
Can an Employee Sue Their Employer for a Work Injury?
If your employer behaved in a reckless manner or performed some intentional act that led to your injury, you can sue them. However, it’s important to be aware that if you choose this route, you will not receive workers’ compensation insurance. If you are successful in your lawsuit, the court can award you a wide range of damages, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish and even punitive damages.
Can an Employer Fire a Worker or Tell Them Not to File for Workers’ Compensation?
The majority of the states, by law, prohibit employers from firing workers or telling them not to file for workers’ compensation after they are injured on the job. If an employer tried to retaliate against an individual for filing for workers’ comp, the employee should immediate report them to their local workers’ compensation office.
On-the-job accidents should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. If you are injured while on the job and your employer disputes your claim for benefits, you should seek legal assistance. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help you.