Workers' Compensation: Crucial Questions

Employees who are unable to work after suffering an injury or illness related to their job will need income to support themselves and to have their medical bills paid. The workers' compensation program was created to address this issue. Workers' compensation is a type of insurance that offers vital benefits to disabled workers. The following article answers some crucial questions about this important government program.

Are You Covered by Workers' Compensation?

Typically, most employees are covered by the workers' compensation program because the majority of employers are legally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. An important exception involves the number of workers a business employs. In the majority of states, an employer with at least one worker must carry workers' compensation insurance. Some states, however, set the maximum number of employees a business can employ without having to participate in the program a little higher, but no state has a maximum of more than five. Also, Texas makes participating in the program optional for employers.

You must be an employee to be covered. Independent contractors are not covered. Another exception occurs for employees who work for the federal government. These workers are covered by a separate program.

Does Workers' Compensation Cover All Injuries and Illnesses?

For you to receive workers' compensation benefits, your injury or illness must be work-related. As long as your injury or illness occurs during " the course and scope of your employment" you should be eligible for benefits. If the injury happens away from the workplace, you could still be covered if you were engaged in a job-related activity. For example, if you have an accident while traveling for business, you should be covered. The same would apply if you are injured while on an errand for your employer.

Some types of injuries are not covered by workers' compensation even if they happen in the workplace. For example, injuries you receive due to using alcohol and drugs or that result from horesplay or fighting at work are typically not covered, depending on the specific circumstance.

Can You Take Your Employer to Court?

The workers' compensation program was created to bypass the court system, so in most cases, you will not be able to file a lawsuit against your employer for your injury but must seek relief through the program. Several important exceptions exist, however, such as if your illness resulted from a toxic substance in the workplace or the injury was caused by defective equipment. Also, if your employer does not carry workers' compensation insurance for some reason, then you should be able to file a suit to get compensation for your disability.

To have all of your questions answered, consult a workers' compensation lawyer.

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