If you have been seriously injured in the workplace, the first thing that will probably come to your mind is whether or not you can receive compensation benefits for your injuries. While certain rules may vary among states, the answer to who are entitled and not to workers compensation benefits is the same for all.
In this article, you will discover if you can claim compensation from your employer if you have been injured in the workplace.
How can you be entitled to compensation benefits?
When you are eligible under the law, you can be entitled to benefits that include payments for your hospital bills and lost wages. There are basically four requirements that should be met for you to become eligible for workers compensation benefits:
- You are an employee
According to the law, all employees are eligible to receive workers compensation benefits when injured in the workplace. This means all employees, including seasonal employees and part-timers, are entitled to benefits under the law. In fact, even independent contractors, freelancers, and consultants who work many hours for their employers and perform their duties at the employer’s place of business can also be considered as employees and are therefore covered by the workers compensation law.
However, the story is different if you are a casual worker. This is because your status will depend on whether or not you are technically an independent contractor or a bona fide employee. If your employer is treating you as an employee and is withholding taxes from your wages, then you can be considered as an employee and may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. If your employer has been treating you more as an employee than an independent contractor but denies you benefits, it is best to find a workers compensation attorney to discuss your situation.
Workers’ compensation attorneys can help develop or find medical evidence to prove an employee’s claim, check and submit required paperwork, negotiate a settlement, and represent the employee on a workers compensation hearing. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help the employee obtain fair compensation for hospital bills and monetary losses caused by a workplace injury due to the employer’s negligence. Click here to about how a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you.
- Your employer is covered by workers compensation
While laws vary per state, all employers should provide workers compensation coverage for their employees—whether it is required of them or not. States have different requirements when it comes to providing such coverage, and these requirements generally depend on the number of employees an employer has and its type of business. In many cases, employers purchase compensation insurance for their employees even if they are not required under the law. If you are working in the federal government, however, take note that the government has its own workers compensation system so you need to be aware of the federal workers compensation system and not the state system if you want to know your benefits.
- Your injury or illness is work-related
Since we are talking about lodging a workers compensation claim, it goes without saying that the personal injury you are trying to claim compensation for is something that came as a result of your work. Examples of these are hurting your ankle while carrying boxes in your warehouse, or developing a respiratory disease due to regular exposure to hazardous chemicals in your workplace. Before you can receive workers compensation benefits, you must be able to establish that your injury or illness is related to your job. Certain mental illnesses are also covered by the workers compensation law if they result from something that happened at work.
Worker’s compensation insurance doesn’t cover on-the-job injuries. Some examples include an incident caused by an act of God, common illnesses like headaches or influenza, and a heart attack. Others have damages caused by a fight, off-duty recreational activity, repetitive mental trauma, committing a serious crime, violation of company policy, intoxicated or drug abuse, and self-inflicted harm.
When proven that you’re eligible for a workers compensation claim, payments usually cover medical care or hospital expenses, retraining cost, income replacement, and permanent injury compensation. In addition, workers compensation also benefits the employee’s bereaved family.
- You report and file a workers compensation claim within the state’s set deadlines
Meeting the first three qualifications is not enough to claim your compensation benefits. In fact, in many cases, some employees lose their right to their benefits due to failure to meet the deadlines set by the state for filing workers compensation claims. Make sure that you report your injuries and file a workers compensation claim as soon as you recognize your injuries. This will make it easier for you to establish and gather evidence to support your claim.
Even if you successfully meet the first three requirements, the law may still find you ineligible if you happen to belong to the categories of exempt workers, including domestic workers, agricultural and farm workers, and leased employees. Workers who fall into any of these categories usually do not have workers compensation coverage.
Regardless of who was at fault for your injury, you may be entitled to compensation benefits if you are eligible under the workers compensation law. With this protection, however, comes your inability to file a suit against your employer for damages. This may be tricky if you do not know a thing about the workers compensation law, so it is best to work with an injury lawyer to know your rights and chances of making a successful claim. Click here if you are looking for experienced compensation and personal injury lawyers.