What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that is mandated by the state that ensures certain compensation and protections, such as medical care and disability payments, to employees who suffer from injuries or illnesses that are related to their jobs. Workers’ compensation programs for some employees, such as federal employees, are run by the federal government, but most workers’ compensation programs are controlled by the states. Because of the fact that states control most programs, the laws from state to state will vary, and certain categories of employees might not be covered. However, there are some basic principles that are similar in most places.

Your employer did not need to be at fault

People sometimes think that in order to collect workers’ compensation, they must have suffered an injury or illness as a result of an action or failure on the part of their employer. This is not true. Certainly, if an individual is injured because of something their employer did, or neglected to do, they would be covered by workers’ compensation, but other situations are covered as well. In fact, the injury could be the fault of a co-worker, a client, or even the injured employer. The important factor is not so much who was to blame, but whether it was work related.

In order to be covered, the injury must be the result of something that occurred in the course of the employees work. If it happened during work hours, at the work site, while performing a work related task, that obviously counts, but it would also cover situations where the employee was injured driving a truck to drop off equipment, while an employee was traveling for work, and even at a company sponsored event.

Illnesses can be covered too

Most workers’ compensation claims revolve around injuries, but if an employee has an illness that is clearly caused by his or her work, then that individual might be covered as well. The issue with illnesses is that it is harder to show proof that the illness shares a causal link with a person’s job. If a person falls and breaks their arm while unloading boxes from a truck at work, the fact that the injury was work related is fairly obvious, but illnesses are not as clear cut. Still, something like black lung disease is an example of a work related illness whose causal link has been well established. In this sort of situation, the employee would qualify.

Mental conditions can also qualify, but again, there is often a difficulty in proving the condition is in fact work related. If the employee suffers from PTSD after a horrible workplace accident that caused the death of a co-worker then that would likely suffice. If the employee suffers from depression that he or she believes is caused by the stressful environment the company they work for, this is likely going to be a more difficult case to make.

Some workplace injuries would not be covered

Certain injuries might not be covered, for instance, if you injured yourself going out to lunch. However, if you injured yourself picking up lunch for your whole office, that might count, and so might an injury that occurred at the workplace cafeteria.

If you were injured at work as the result of something you did while you were intoxicated, or under the influence of illegal drugs, this is probably not going to be covered. The same would be true if you were injured while engaged in a serious criminal act, or a fight you started with a co-worker, or while flagrantly violating a company safety policy. If your carelessness was to blame for your injury, that would be covered, but if you were injured while juggling knives on a whim, you might struggle to make your case.

In some cases, you can sue in court

Workers’ compensation provides employees with a fairly strong guarantee of being covered in workplace injuries, but the trade-off is that you are meant to use the workers’ compensation system, and not the court system to settle your claims. There are however, exceptions.

If you injury was the result of recklessness or willful actions taken by your employer, you might have the right to sue in court. So if your boss physically attacked you, you would have recourse outside of workers’ compensation. Additionally, certain products liabilities claims, or injuries caused by third parties rather than a co-worker or supervisor, might present the opportunity to sue in a court of law.

Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation

At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you in order to find the best strategy for seeking compensation for your job related injuries. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced attorney.

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