What Does Workers’ Comp Cover?
If you’ve been injured on the job, you’re facing a lot of expenses that you shouldn’t be personally responsible for paying. Medical bills, hospital stays, and rehabilitation costs all add up fast and that’s not including the income you stand to lose from being forced to take time off from work. Workers’ compensation is intended to help injured and sick employees get through this difficult time, but what exactly is workers’ comp and what does it cover?
Generally speaking, workers’ compensation covers injuries and illnesses a person incurs in the course of their job. It’s a type of insurance that takes care of a worker’s medical and rehabilitation bills related to the illness or injury and provides compensation for some of the wages lost during time the worker is unable to work while they recover. If the worker is injured in a way that makes it impossible for them to return to the job they had been doing prior to the accident, workers’ comp might be able to cover things like tuition or training for them to be able to do a different job. If a worker is killed on the job, workers’ comp can also provide compensation to the worker’s surviving family members to cover funeral and burial expenses as well as compensation for lost wages.
Workers’ compensation isn’t just limited to injuries caused by workplace accidents, it also includes injuries and illnesses that develop over time as a result of your regular job duties. For example, if you develop an injury caused by repetitive motions that you have to do as part of your job, that can be covered by workers’ comp. Workers’ comp also covers illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to conditions in the workplace. So if you’re frequently exposed to something like radiation, hazardous chemicals, or asbestos in the course of your job and develop an illness as a result of those conditions, workers’ comp would cover it. In some circumstances, psychological conditions can also be covered by workers’ comp.
Although the basic idea that workers’ comp covers injuries caused by job-related activities seems straightforward enough, there are some circumstances where there is a bit of gray area about what is and isn’t considered a job-related activity. In many situations, workers’ comp covers injuries that happen outside of your usual place of work, such as at a company-sponsored party or event or while traveling for business purposes, but not always. For example, if you’re injured during a trip to a store during a work day, whether or not workers’ comp would cover your injuries depends on the reason for your trip to the store. If you were going to the store on your lunch break to pick up some personal items, workers’ comp would not cover that. But if your boss sent you to the store to get something, workers’ comp would probably cover you. Or if you’re injured in a car accident that happened while driving your own car as part of your regular commute to or from work, workers’ comp would not cover that. However, if you use a company-owned car to commute to and from work every day, workers’ comp might cover you. If you’re unsure whether or not your injury is technically considered a work-related injury, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
Typically, workers’ comp covers injuries and illnesses regardless of who was at fault for causing it. But there are some circumstances where workers’ comp claim might be denied. If a worker’s injury was caused by the worker being under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while doing something illegal, those claims are often denied. Some states also have laws that prohibit workers’ comp benefits from being given to workers who have self-inflicted injuries or because they acted in a way that violated company policy. Not all workers are eligible for workers’ comp benefits, either. Laws vary from state to state, but in many cases, certain types of workers such as seasonal employees, agricultural workers, and domestic workers are not required to be covered by workers’ comp or have special rules that apply to them. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re covered by workers’ comp, a workers’ comp attorney can help evaluate your case.