When employees are hurt on the job, they often require medical attention, and may also miss work due to the injury. There is legislation in place that address this issue, providing guidelines and regulations for medical and financial assistance the employee may receive. These differ from state to state, and because employers have specific responsibilities under the law, they may benefit from an understanding of workers’ compensation insurance and their requirements according to the legal system.
How Workers’ Compensation Laws Benefit Employers
Companies must carry workers’ compensation insurance, and in the event of a work-related accident, the injured employee may collect benefits through the program. Workers’ compensation is not just for employees; this system also provides many protections for employers. For example, there is a limit to how much financial compensation an employee may be entitled to. By participating, a worker may be prohibited from also filing litigation, saving the employer from an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit. However, if there is another party involved, such as the manufacturer of a company car that malfunctions and results in a collision, the employee may be able to file a civil suit against that third party. This may end up restoring the amounts the employer has paid to the employee.
Who Is Covered
A work-related injury may happen to anyone, but only employees of a company may collect workers’ compensation benefits. Someone who is hired as an independent contractor would not qualify, even under the same circumstances. Domestic or agricultural workers, seasonal employees and those who work for railroad or maritime companies may not be eligible, but the exclusions vary, so employers should become familiar with the laws that apply in their state.
Types of Injuries Workers’ Compensation Covers
State laws are inconsistent about defining what may be considered a work-related injury, but in general, it must be related to the worker’s job. This doesn’t necessarily mean something that happened while working, though. Some accidents in breakrooms or at work-sponsored events may be covered. Although the laws typically apply even if the employee is injured due to carelessness, accidents related to roughhousing or intoxication may not be covered. If an employee injures themselves during the commute to work in the morning, he or she would likely not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits because the injury did not occur as the result of his or her employment.
When employees are injured on the company’s premises during work hours, a workers’ compensation claim would probably be successful. If an employee is injured while in a company-owned vehicle or while running a work-related errand in his or her personal vehicle, workers’ compensation benefits may also apply.
Workers’ compensation benefits may be available if employees are injured as a result of work-related stress or strain. Such injuries may be mental as well as physical. For instance, if an employee is subjected to psychological stress from a hostile work environment to the point they develop a mental ailment, he or she may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits to cover the cost of medical attention and rehabilitation. Coverage also applies to occupational diseases such as lung disease from exposure to asbestos, and preexisting medical conditions exacerbated by the employment.
Each state has discretion to determine whether the circumstances surrounding an injury qualify an employee to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Requirements for Employers
While some large companies that are profitable enough to be able to insure themselves may be exempt, almost every state requires most small and mid-sized companies to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Should an employee get injured on the job, a claim can then be filed through the insurance carrier. A company that does not have proper insurance in place may be subject to legal action by the state and by the injured employee.
If an injury to an employee does occur, the employer is required to fill out and file paperwork with a description of the incident or other details. Employers may be required to post a notice in the workplace that they are in compliance with workers’ compensation requirements. Companies must follow federal and state safety guidelines to prevent accidents wherever possible.
What Employers May Not Do
Employers may not deny an employee medical care if he or she suffers an injury while at work. When an injured employee is ready to return to work, the employer is required to take him or her back. Perhaps most importantly, employers cannot retaliate against an employee in any way for filing a workers’ compensation claim. An employer who attempts to terminate, demote or reduce the pay of an employee because of a claim may be sued by the employee in most states.
Businesses stand to gain from workers’ compensation insurance, even though carrying it may seem like a burden. Learning the applicable state laws and court decisions may be of assistance in preventing unnecessary legal tangles.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.