Millions of Americans work at physically demanding jobs, whether that be construction, manufacturing, or retail and food services. Because these jobs require strenuous tasks and not always optimal work environments, workers' compensation can play an integral role in the livelihood of many. This is why every employee should be aware of the workers' compensation policies in place that can help them. Here are a few key things everyone should know about workers' compensation.
What is workers' compensation?
Workers' compensation refers to the laws and regulations in place that protect employees who are injured on the job. The idea behind these policies is that they insure workers in the event of any accidents, thus negating the need for litigation. In this way, workers' compensation is equally important to the employer as the employee, as it removes the possibility of a lawsuit.
Workers' compensation covers injuries, diseases and illnesses, and mental conditions that are acquired as a result of employment. This compensation may cover:
- Wage compensation
- Medical reimbursement
- Disability or life insurance
Who does it affect?
For the most part, workers' compensation is regulated on a state-by-state basis. California, for instance, has a very detailed state-regulated compensation program that requires all employers must provide insurance to cover any potential injuries.
There are a few federal statutes in place to protect the employers and employees. All federally employed workers are covered by the Federal Employees' Compensation Program. There are also federal laws in place to ensure certain railroad workers, private maritime employees, seamen, miners, and energy employees. Check with the Department of Labor to learn whether or not your fall into one of the federally regulated compensation systems.
When can I benefit from workers' compensation?
Workers' compensation only refers to injuries or illnesses that are work-related. This does not, however, mean that injuries sustained while at work or on a job site are all considered work-related.
Generally speaking, if you are injured while preforming work sanctioned duties or tasks that benefit the company, then those injuries are work-related. Injuries that occur while on break, at lunch, or traveling to and from work, are not considered work-related and you are not eligible for workers' compensation. There are some grey areas in regards to injuries obtained while at a work event or party, as a result of a preexisting condition, or by employee misconduct.
Workers' compensation is an important form of liability and wage insurance. If you have been injured and believe you may be entitled to workers' compensation, contact your state's workers' compensation office.