What Is Workers Comp? Your Guide to Understanding Workers Comp

Are you asking “What is workers comp?” and trying to understand how it works? Read this article to learn more about works comp and how it works.

Workers comp is something that pretty much all employed people have heard about. You might even have posters reminding you about it at your place of work. Yet, despite how often we hear about it, many people still don’t know what it is.

Workers’ compensation is extremely important to know about, especially when you’re employed by someone else. So what is workers comp? And how can you apply it to your life?

Continue reading and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.

What Is Workers Comp?

Although work comp laws vary by state, most of these share some important similarities. For one, it’s required for most businesses to buy insurance that offers a variety of benefits to their workers if they should get hurt or become sick because of their jobs.

This system supplies a compromise between employees and employers. For employees, they receive benefits no matter whose fault it was. For employers, they are given protection from lawsuits that injured employees might want to issue.

State laws are in charge of their respective worker’s comp governing. Although federal government employees are protected under a federal workers’ compensation system. Although the details of workers comp laws vary by state, the overall operation and structure of these systems are fairly similar.

To find out the specifics of your state’s workers comp laws, you should reach out to your state department of workers comp or industrial relations. The website for the Department of Labor provides an interactive map too where you can find the necessary phone numbers for your state.

Which Employers Are Required to Supply Workers Comp?

All of the American states other than Texas require most employers to provide workers comp insurance. In the majority of states, as long as an employer has at least one employee, they must provide coverage. Some other states require that an employer have at least two to five employees before they need to get workers comp insurance.

Some construction companies and some agricultural businesses are exempt from workers’ comp rules in a few states. Charities are also sometimes allowed to opt out of the worker’s comp system.

Large corporations can usually choose to insure themselves but they will have to apply with the state and abide by strict self-insurance requirements.

It’s also important to point out that companies don’t have to provide workers comp for all types of employees. For example, independent contractors, volunteers, and people who work domestic jobs in private homes are generally not covered under workers’ comp.

Because seasonal and casual workers don’t work as part of a company’s regular business model, they too are sometimes excluded. Even if a business isn’t required to purchase workers’ compensation, however, many still decide to buy it. That’s because offering workers comp gives employers helpful liability protections.

What Happens if a Company Doesn’t Have Workers Comp?

If an employer doesn’t offer workers’ compensation insurance coverage, then an employee who was injured can sue their employee in civil court. Some states have put aside special funds that provide worker’s compensation benefits for employees who are injured and illegally uninsured by their employer.

The state may then go after that company to seek reimbursement for the cost of those insurance benefits. An employer who doesn’t offer the legally required insurance can face criminal charges as well as hefty fines.

How to Receive Workers Comp Insurance

When you get injured on the job, you must notify your boss immediately. Your employer may then file a claim of compensation for you or a notice of injury. However, you can’t count on them doing that.

Because of this, your workers compensation attorney should file a claim for compensation to start the process. The insurance company attorney and your attorney will then show up to court for the prehearing. They’ll go over with the judge about where you are on the case.

If you finish your treatment during the prehearing stage, the parties will then call a mediation. You will likely have to attend the mediation with your attorney. The judge is going to want to hear from you.

They’re going to want to know how you’re doing and how you’re getting over your injury. The judge will then suggest a reasonable range to resolve the disability portion of your claim.

If you and the insurance company can’t agree, then your case will move to a hearing. Cases rarely reach this stage as they are usually resolved by the mediation process.

At the hearing, your lawyer will show evidence of your rating. A physician will assign you your rating. This rating states how affected you are by your injuries after receiving treatment. The insurance company will also choose their doctor to give you a rating.

The judge is going to hear all of the provided evidence and then make a decision. At this point, your case should be over. If it isn’t, then you may have to go through appeals.

What Kind of Illnesses and Injuries Are Covered by Workers Comp Insurance?

Workers comp laws only cover illnesses or injuries that are related to your job. With that said, the injury doesn’t necessarily have to happen at the place where you work. For example, attending a social function related to your job, traveling for work, and going on office errands are all usually covered by workers comp.

Common injuries covered by workers’ comps include accidents such as slipping and falling on wet floors. However, other injuries include cumulative trauma. An example of this would be repetitive stress or strain injury that progresses as time goes on due to performing the same physical task over and over.

You might also contract an occupational disease due to poor workplace conditions. Cancer and lung diseases are common among people who work with toxic chemicals. Some states even require employers to cover digestive problems and heart disease that occur from work-related stresses.

Workers comp will rarely cover your injuries if they are caused by you being intoxicated or having illegal drugs in your system. Coverage will also be denied if the injuries occurred due to misconduct.

If your injuries were self-inflicted or were due to you starting a fight then you will be denied coverage. You’ll also be denied workers comp if you were injured while committing a serious crime or a felony

Some states will deny coverage if your injury happened while you were violating your company policy or were not acting safely and responsibly. However, if the way you were acting was acceptable within your office culture or condoned by your boss then the state may still grant you workers comp.

Also, there are usually special rules when it comes to workers’ compensation claims for employees who were let go or fired.

When Can an Employee Sue Their Employer for Injuries?

Employers are not protected from all lawsuits by employees, even when they provide workers comp insurance. There are some exceptions where workers can sue the companies they work for when they’ve been injured. However, it varies from state to state.

If an employee is injured directly due to the actions or intentions of their employer, they can sometimes bypass workers comp and file a lawsuit against their employer. They can sue for monetary damages including pain and suffering as well as punitive damages. To do this, an employee is going to have to show that their employer was intentionally trying to bring harm to them.

Employees can also sue their employers if those employers don’t have proper workers comp insurance.

The Importance of Knowing About Worker’s Comp

If you’re an employer or employee working in the United States, you must be aware of what workers’ compensation is. You should also read up on your state’s specific rules and requirements so that you know what you’re entitled to.

Getting injured while on the job is never fun, but knowing what your rights are and how you can receive the treatment you deserve will help make it much more bearable. It’s also important that you contact an experienced and reliable workers comp attorney who can help you along the way and make sure that your rights are being protected.

Hopefully, after reading all of the above, you now have an answer to the question “What is workers comp?”. And by working safely and responsibly, you can hopefully avoid ever needing any workers comp insurance.

Are you interested in reading other helpful articles about education and careers? Check out the rest of our blog today for more!

One Comment

  1. Thanks for your advice about contacting a worker’s comp attorney that can help protect your rights in case your company tries to take advantage of you. My husband is starting work for an electric company soon and I’m really worried as his job exposes him to a lot of danger what with him working with live wires all day. I’ll make sure to bookmark and talk to him about it so that in case he is ever injured on the job we know what we can do to ensure he is fairly compensated.

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