Getting injured at work can have severe negative consequences, some of which are physical, some of which are emotional, and some of which are monetary. Fortunately, however, there are rules in place to minimize the latter. We’re referring to workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation ensures that workers are still paid a portion of their salary in the event of a workplace injury that prevents them from performing their typical tasks. That said, to qualify for compensation, you must meet specific workers’ compensation requirements.
Were you injured at work? Wondering whether you meet these requirements? Read on to find out.
What are the Workers’ Compensation Requirements?
When it comes to requirements for securing workers’ compensation, there are 4 general requirements you must meet. They include the following.
You Must Be Employed By Your Company
First and foremost, you must be employed by the company that you were working for when you were injured. In other words, independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation, at least in the vast majority of cases.
As a rule of thumb, you’re only eligible if your employer is paying half of your FICA tax. This would indicate full employment under the rule of law.
Note, however, that independent contractors might be able to sue for damages. For instance, if you’re a subcontractor who gets hurt while performing construction work, you might be able to file a lawsuit against your primary contractor in order to win compensation of some kind.
You Must Have the Right Type of Employment
It’s not just employment that you need in order to obtain workers’ compensation. You need the right type of employment as well. Some types of employs that are not eligible for workers’ compensation include seasonal workers, undocumented workers, agriculture workers, and domestic workers.
Hired through a temporary agency? If so, the company you work for likely doesn’t have to give you workers’ compensation. Note, however, that the agency probably does.
Your Employer Must Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Another requisite for workers’ compensation is that your employer must have workers’ compensation insurance. This is a form of insurance that pays out to eligible employees upon the event of eligible workplace injuries. State laws require most employers to carry it.
Note, however, that not every company is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In some states, companies with less than 3 employees are allowed to operate without it.
In the state of Texas, companies aren’t required to carry workers’ compensation insurance at all. Note, however, that injured employees can still sue for benefits.
By and large, you’ll find that most companies carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of whether or not they’re required to by law. Why? Because it reduces the risk of lawsuits being filed.
The Injury Must Be Work-related
Another requirement you must meet is that your injury must be work-related. If your injury did not occur while actually performing work tasks, it’s very unlikely that it’s covered by workers’ compensation.
For instance, let’s say that you’re a warehouse worker and that your hand gets smashed by a heavy box while loading items onto a truck. This would almost undoubtedly be covered by workers’ compensation.
On the other hand, let’s say that you’re at a company retreat and are swimming in a lake. You jump into shallow water and break your leg. Unfortunately, because this didn’t actually occur while at work, it likely won’t be covered by workers’ compensation.
You Must Report and File On Time
One more requirement for workers’ compensation is that you must report and file on time. If you file a claim past your state-mandated deadline, you might not be rewarded with fair compensation.
In most states, you must file your claim within 1 to 3 years of the injury. Note, however, that you may have to report your injury to your employer within 30 days of it occurring.
Exact rules and regulations can be found at your state’s official website. Make sure to abide by the rules in order to optimize your chances of receiving compensation.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation
We’ve covered the requirements for workers‘ compensation. Now, you might be wondering about how to file. We’re going to get into the workers compensation process below.
Report Your Injury to Your Employer
Upon incurring an injury at work, you should report it to your supervisor. It’s recommended that you do this immediately. However, most states give you 30 days.
Once you’ve reported your injury, your employer will likely send you to a doctor. Most companies have doctors that will provide medical assistance at no cost to the employee. However, if you wish, you can go to your own doctor (fees will apply).
Fill Out Necessary Paperwork
Once you’re back from the doctor’s office, you will need to fill out some paperwork. This paperwork will be provided by your employer and will essentially indicate the time and nature of your injury.
Employer Files Claim
Next, your employer will file a claim with its workers’ compensation insurance company. Make note, though, that you may need your doctor to supply a medical report. In some states, your employer will also need to file a claim with the state workers’ compensation board.
Await the Status of Your Claim
After your claim has been filed, you will await the decision of the insurance company and the state board. If your claim is accepted, you will be rewarded with compensation. If it’s not, you have two options: 1. Have your claim reviewed, and 2. Pursue a legal appeal.
Generally speaking, the status of your injury will determine when you go back to work. However, you could be forced into performing lighter duties for the duration of your injury.
Find Other Legal Information
Now that you know a thing or two about workers compensation requirements, you might be looking for other legal information. If so, you’re in the right place. Our website has all the information you need.
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