7 Things You Need To Know About Workers Comp.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a type of insurance that an employer will need to get if they have any employees that work for them. This coverage will take care of any work-related injuries that an employee might incur while on the job. This article is geared towards helping you as an employee if you get hurt and the questions that you might have around what you are covered for or not covered for.
1. What is workers’ compensation or workman’s compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is an insurance that is required by the state for any employer with employees. You may have heard Workers’ Comp which is the same exact insurance. Federal employees are also covered by a workers’ comp insurance but it’s different than what the states require; each state still has its own requirements for workers’ comp. Make sure you get the handbook for your state that explains the workers’ comp policy requirements in your state on the State Workers’ Compensation official page of the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.
Typically no matter whose fault it was a worker will be able to collect benefits in some capacity. Because these workers comp benefits act as a type of insurance, they preclude the employee from suing his or her employer for the injuries covered.
2. What types of incidents are and are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance?
Workers’ comp insurance is specifically designed to cover injuries that arise from either employee or employer negligence. Although there is a broad amount of injuries that workers’ comp covers there are some limits. A state can and most likely will have the employee who is claiming injury take drug and alcohol tests and deny any claims if that person has a positive test. Compensation may also be denied if the injuries were self-inflicted; where the employee was violating a law or company policy; and where the employee was not on the job at the time of the injury.
3. What types of expenses does workers’ compensation insurance cover?
Payments are usually favorable but this is what you will get covered or payments for:
- medical care from the injury or illness
- replacement income
- costs for retraining
- compensation for any permanent injuries
- benefits to survivors of workers who are killed on the job
Once you accept the workers’ comp claim you can no longer sue an employer. And workers’ compensation benefits do NOT cover pain and suffering.
Wage replacement is usually two/thirds of the worker’s average wage, but there is a fixed maximum amount that the benefits will not go over. That may seem modest, but note that these benefits are not taxed. So, as long as the employee was making a fair wage, he or she should have no major problems. The eligibility for wage replacement begins immediately after a few days of work are missed because of a particular injury or illness.
4. Does workers’ compensation insurance cover long-term and permanent injuries?
Yes. Workers’ compensation insurance is not limited to just incidental accidents. It also covers problems and illnesses that are developed over a long period of time of doing the same injurious activity–for example, carpal tunnel syndrome or back problems from some sort of repetitious movement.
5. Who is covered by workers’ compensation insurance?
Almost all states cover any employee within a company except for these roles:
- independent contractors
- business owners
- employees of private homes
- farmers and farmhands
- maritime employees
- railroad employees
- casual workers
Because employees of the federal government are covered under the federal workers’ compensation insurance program, they are not covered by state workers’ comp. States will not enforce the employers to get workers’ comp if their company is very small. This varies from state to state.
6. Can I sue my employer for a work injury?
Yes. You may sue your employer for any reckless or intentional action of your employer that caused your injury. If you choose to do this, you will waive your right to workers’ compensation insurance. If you are successful, the court may award a broad range of damages, such as punitive damages, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
7. Can my employer fire me for or tell me not to file a workers’ compensation claim?
No. Most states prohibit this by law. If an employer does retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim, the employer should be reported immediately to the local workers’ compensation office.