Workers’ compensation is an insurance program designed to provide financial assistance to Americans who have experienced work-related injuries or illnesses. However, the program does not extend to every American laborer, which is why you need to know the requirements before seeking workers’ compensation.
Does My Employer Participate in the Program?
Not all businesses and organizations provide workers’ compensation. Requirements for participation vary between states, and often companies with only a small number of employees and that do not conduct high-risk activities are exempt. Employees of businesses that do not participate in the program will obviously not be eligible for benefits.
Do I Work Directly for the Company?
An employee is not always well-defined, especially in an era of freelance workers and independent consultants. Those who are not directly employed by the firm are usually not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, individuals who are classified as independent contractors may in some cases have a valid claim if they are injured.
Is My Work Considered Regular Employment?
Domestic employees, including those who do housework or gardening, are not covered by workers’ compensation. Nor are temporary workers leased from other firms or volunteers who provide services to various organizations. Most states exempt agricultural workers from coverage, and you may not be eligible if your work is intermittent or seasonal. Some states do require coverage for undocumented workers.
Did I Follow Proper Protocol?
Workplace injuries need to be reported immediately and thoroughly. If you suffered an injury that was not reported within a reasonable period of time, you may encounter difficulties obtaining benefits. The employer will often refer an injured employee to a selected doctor, who should properly document the injury.
Was My Injury Work-Related?
Although many work-related injuries are obvious, such as those resulting from falls, some health conditions are often obscure, such as an ailment that results from prolonged exposure to repetitious physical activities. However, in both cases the worker may be eligible for compensation. There are also cases in which seemingly unrelated injuries can be covered—a Wisconsin employment lawyer notes that a worker is eligible for benefits if an injury occurs at a location away from the workplace but during an activity that is in conjunction with regular employment activities.
Seeking Legal Remedies to Disputes
Disputes can arise in every one of these issues, often frustrating attempts by workers to obtain compensation. An attorney who is knowledgeable in workers’ compensation issues can be the best advocate for those who feel they have been unfairly denied benefits.
This article is from Emma Sturgis, a freelance writer living in Boston. She writes on a variety of topics, including politics and law. When not at her computer, she enjoys film noir and rock climbing.