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What You Should Know About Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Often called “workers’ comp”, workers’ compensation is a state mandated program consisting of payments required by law to be made to an employee who is injured or disabled in connection with work. The federal government does offer its own workers’ compensation insurance for all federal employees, but individual states follow their own workers’ compensation insurance program. In the majority of situations, injured employees receive workers’ compensation no matter who is at fault.

What Kinds Of Incidents Are And Are Not Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is designed to cover any injuries that are a result of an employer’s or another employee’s carelessness. The range of injuries and situations it covers is quite broad, but there are some limits too. For example, a few state impose a drug and alcohol testing on injured employees and can deny benefits to those who were under the influence during the time of the injury. Compensation can also be denied if the injuries were self-inflicted or where the employee was violating a law or company rule at the time of injury.

What Kinds Of Expenses Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

Although the payments are typically quite modest, workers’ compensation may cover:

  • Medical care from the injury or illness

  • Replacement income

  • Costs for retraining

  • Compensation for any permanent injuries

  • Benefits to survivors of workers who are killed on the job

However, if a person collects their workers’ compensation benefits, they cannot sue their employer and they do not cover the cost of your pain and suffering.

Wage replacement is typically two thirds of the workers’ average wage, but there is a fixed maximum amount that the benefits will not go over. It may seem modest, but it is fair to note that these benefits are not taxed. So if the employee makes a fair wage, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The eligibility for wage replacement can start immediately after a few days of work are missed due to that particular injury or illness.

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Long-Term And Permanent Injuries?

Actually, they do! Workers’ compensation is not limited to just incidental accidents, but also covers problems and illnesses that have developed over a long period of time doing the same repetitive activity. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in jobs that cause you to use your hands and wrist in a repetitive motion such as typing or cashiering.

Who Is Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

The majority of employees are covered by workers’ compensation. However, that being said, states do commonly exclude some workers from coverage including:

  • Independent contractors

  • Business owners

  • Volunteers

  • Farmers and farmhands

  • Maritime employees

  • Railroad employees

  • Casual employees

Since the employees of the federal government are covered under the federal workers’ compensation program, they are technically not covered by state workers’ compensation instead.

Can You Sue Your Employer For A Work Injury?

Actually, you can! You may sue your employer for any reckless or intentional action of your employer that may have caused your injury. However, if you choose to do this, you waive your right to workers’ compensation. If you are successful, the court could award a broad range of damages including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.

Can Your Employer Fire You For Or Tell You Not To File A Workers’ Compensation?

Not at all. If an employer does retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you need to report your employer immediately to the local workers’ compensation office.