Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
Workers’ compensation is a benefit put in place to provide for workers who have suffered injury or illness because of their job. Most companies are required to have workers’ compensation insurance in place to help cover any medical expenses that relate to an injury in the workplace. If you have been injured or become ill as a result of your job, you are probably wondering if you are eligible to receive workers’ comp. Though the specifics will vary by state, there are basic criteria in place to determine what workers are covered by workers’ compensation.
Criteria for workers’ compensation
State law determines who is eligible to receive workers’ comp and depends on three basic criteria. First, the worker’s employer must be covered by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage does not just provide for workers who have been injured; it also exists to protect companies from lawsuits related to workplace injuries. The requirements that state if workers’ compensation must cover a company will vary by state; some states include a minimum number of employees, and others do not have any employee limits. In general, the majority of employers are required to have some form of workers’ compensation insurance; if your company claims that they are not, you will want to check with a lawyer to make sure you are properly covered for workers’ compensation under your employer.
The second criteria is that the injured party must be an employee. This may sound obvious, but the definition of an employee for the purposes of workers’ compensation claims is very specific. Freelance employees, consultants, or other independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation. It is important to be aware of how your company classifies you; in the event of an injury, some employers will try to claim that the injured party was not an employee in order to avoid workers’ compensation claims. Volunteers are also usually not covered by workers’ compensation, though some states make exceptions for people like volunteer firefighters.
Third, the injury or illness must be work-related. You are entitled to workers’ compensation if you have been injured in the course of your duties, whether in your own office or at a client site. The fact that the injury was work-related is usually evident in the case of an acute trauma injury like cutting yourself or falling on-site. However, workers’ compensation also covers repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or hearing loss. It is important to inform your employer immediately when you become aware of a cumulative trauma injury and inform your doctor of how, specifically, your injury was caused by work. There can also be a gray area if you are injured at a company social event, while commuting to work, or during other activities that are not officially “work” but do have some connection to your job. If you are unsure whether or not your injury qualifies as work-related, you will want to consult an experienced worker’s compensation attorney in Atlanta.
What does workers’ compensation cover?
Workers’ comp benefits can include a variety of expenses related to your workplace illness or injury. Most people think of medical benefits when considering workers’ comp, such as doctor’s visits, medication, and surgery. These items are typically covered. The rehabilitation necessary to get back to work is also part of most workers’ comp benefits, as well as disability benefits while you are unable to work.
Who is not covered by workers’ compensation?
The regulations surrounding workers’ compensation vary by state. In most states, certain groups of employees are not eligible for workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp is not generally available to domestic workers who work in a home like babysitters and housekeepers. Agricultural and farm workers are also exempt from workers’ comp in most states, though some people who work on a farm, like horse trainers, are not considered “farm workers” under the law. In the case of employees who are leased or loaned, like employees from a temp agency, states vary on which company (the temp agency or the company the employee was currently working at) is expected to pay workers’ comp claims. Workers’ comp does not cover seasonal workers in a number of states, and there are a variety of laws regarding undocumented workers. Some states explicitly include undocumented workers in workers’ comp, some explicitly exclude them, and the majority of states make no specific statement one way or the other.
Worker’s compensation is there to cover your medical expenses if you are injured in the course of your job. If you are unsure if the criteria listed here apply to your situation, reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta. You deserve to claim the support that you are legally entitled to.