Is There Financial Help Available?
You may qualify for Workers’ Compensation if you were injured or became ill while performing your duties as an employee, but it depends on certain actors regarding the incident. Workers’ compensation is an insurance program employers are required to have to provide financial assistance to employees that encounter work-related injuries. If you are deemed qualified to receive benefits, you will receive pay for work you have not been able to perform, as well as for medical bills incurred during this time.
However, there is one major caveat. In exchange for this financial help, employees normally waive their right to sue their employers for further compensation due to the illness or injury, except for a few rare exceptions.
What Type of Employee is Covered?
Most employees are covered under workers’ compensation whether they are full-time, part-time, temporary or seasonal. However, you are not eligible to receive benefits if you work as an independent contractor. It’s possible for some temporary workers or commissioned sales personnel to be classified as either employees or independent contractors.
If you think your employer is intentionally trying to avoid paying workers’ compensation by listing you as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee, you may want to talk to an attorney familiar with these matters.
Are You Eligible to Receive Benefits?
To be eligible to file for workers’ compensation, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Your employer must be legally required to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Most employers must have this coverage for their eligible employees under the plan, but some companies are exempt and may decide not to cover you.
- The illness or injury you suffered has to occur due to your work-related duties and responsibilities.
- You must be listed as an employee of record with your employer. Independent contractors and freelance workers are not eligible.
Most qualified injuries or illnesses occur at the actual workplace. However, some happen while driving a company-owned vehicle or while at other locations. If the employee was performing their work connected to the job, they will be covered under the workers’ compensation plan.
What Types of Injuries or Illnesses are Covered?
There are many incidents, accidents and illnesses that will be covered by workers’ compensation, but there are certain cases where an injury is not covered for various reasons. Let’s look at some Illnesses and injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation:
Repetitive Motion Injury: These are the most common workplace injuries due to the many employees who need to perform the same motions on a frequent and regular basis. This injury may also be referred to as Repeated Motion Injuries (RMIs), Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) or Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs). The most well-known and common injury of this nature is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), which is a painful injury that affects the hands, wrists and forearms due to repetitive motions—such as typing on a keyboard.
Occupational Illnesses: If an employee acquires a disease from the workplace or is exposed to something that causes an illness related to their working conditions that’s recognized as an industrial disease or injury, they would be eligible for benefits.
Mental, Psychological or Emotional Stress Injuries: These types of injuries are now covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Work-related stress can cause many illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease and other serious health concerns. However, because it is much harder to prove that your stress-induced health problems were work-related, these claims are not as common even though they are related to a great deal of physicians visits.
Injuries and Illnesses that are not Covered by Workers’ Compensation
The following conditions are typically not covered under workers’ compensation:
- Psychiatric-related injuries or diseases
- Injuries caused by negligent behavior, such as fighting
- Self-inflicted injuries that were avoidable
- Injuries from participating in criminal activity, while working under influence of drugs or alcohol or while disobeying company rules
- Injuries that occur due to commuting to and from your workplace (the “Coming and Going Rule”)