Workers’ compensation aims to provide financial relief in the form of medical benefits and wage replacement to employees who are injured during the course of employment. This is also a form of insurance that aims to prevent businesses from going bankrupt due to massive payouts to injured or ill workers.
The employee accepts the benefits and in turn doe not seek legal action against the employer or file for injury claims.
The system works on basis of collective liability and helps meet the financial requirements of both the employer and employee, and is fair to both.
But as with all insurers, employers are also reluctant to shell out workers’ compensations that may affect their bottom line. Many rightful compensation claims are rejected on basis of flimsy grounds and in many instances workers themselves are not aware of the link between their health problems and working conditions, and their rights.
Here are a few things you must know about workers’ compensation if you or a loved one has suffered an injury or health problem at work.
What to Do If You Have a Workplace Injury?
There are many industries like construction and oil and gas where workplace injuries and fatalities are quite high. Mishaps are equally possible in more conventional jobs like administration and nursing as well. There are laws put in place to help workers get adequate compensation for injuries, illnesses or disabilities suffered, and medical expenses incurred.
There are a few eligibility criteria that determine whether an employee is eligible for worker’s compensation or not. They are as follows;
- The employer or the company must subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance
- You must be employed at the time of injury
- The injury or illness must be linked to the type or nature of work you do
Other than the criteria, there are other factors also affecting eligibility for workers’ compensation. Ensure that you consult a lawyer and get adequate knowledge about them before claiming your compensation.
Here are a few things you need to know to check your eligibility for workers’ compensation claims.
Is Your Company Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Most states do not make it mandatory for all companies to subscribe to workers’ compensation coverage. There are many factors governing the membership of companies including the size and type of business, number of employees and the nature of work employees do. If your company does not subscribe to insurance you may have to consult a good attorney and explore the alternatives available to you.
Employers who choose not to subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance usually purchase insurance from private market or opt for self insurance. Most companies will have opted in, so you will get your rightful compensation and in turn you cannot sue your employer.
Check Your Employee Status
Most companies do not give insurance to part time or contractual employees. Independent contractors are also not covered under workers’ compensation and this is one of the reasons why several employees fail to win their claim. Freelancers and consultants are also termed as independent contractors. If you have been denied compensation due to your employee status it is necessary that you consult an attorney.
Volunteers are not considered as full-time employees and are not entitled to benefits, but most states make it mandatory to give full-time status to volunteer fire-fighters.
Injury Must Be Work-Related
Workers’ compensation can be claimed only if the injuries or illnesses are due to the type or nature of work the employee is doing.
Typically a workplace injury is defined as an injury or illness sustained as a result of performing a job or activity for the benefit of your employer. For example, if you hurt your back carrying heavy load in a warehouse, got injured while using a hydraulic cutting machine at job site, or suffered lung complications due to breathing harmful fumes present in the factory you work at, then you have suffered a work-related injury.
Sometimes injuries are not as clearly defined. If you slipped and fell while out to pick up a coffee from a café near your workplace, your injuries will not be covered. But if you were also running an errand for your boss while grabbing your cup of coffee, then you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Alternatively, if you were using the cafeteria in your company’s campus, then too you can rightfully claim compensation.
More serious health problems that arise from inhaling toxic fumes or coming in contact with harmful chemicals like asbestos at work site are also covered under workers’ compensation. These are also health and safety issues, and can lead to legal and administrative action against your employer. It is the duty of every employer to assure the health, safety and well being of employees while at work, and there are strict rules and regulations that companies must follow and adhere to. Any violation in implementing quality checks and health and safety rules can lead to penalties and lawsuits.
Workers’ compensation helps cover medical expenses and loss of income. It also ensures that employees are compensated for disabilities and other debilitating injuries. Awareness about your rights will help you win a fair compensation and exercise your rights as an employee.Share This Article: