Updated: Aug 11
Worker’s Compensation is a form of insurance that is meant to protect employers and employees in the event of work-related injuries and illnesses. It is required by law in most states, including Idaho and Wyoming, that all businesses carry Worker’s Compensation insurance, or at least be self-insured.
How Worker’s Compensation Benefits Employers
If you are an employer, Worker’s Compensation insurance benefits you in 2 major ways:
1. It provides defense against potential lawsuits that may be filed against you for wrongful death,
injury, or illness cause from work.
2. Your business will be protected from medical and time-loss-related costs. This ensures that your
employees are taken care of without adding to much stress to you.
Running a business can be stressful. Worker’s Compensation insurance eliminates much of that stress by protecting your money, your assets, and ultimately your business. Although it is required by law, it is much like car and health insurance in that you cannot afford to not have it.
Worker's Compensation is something that is administered on the state level. And because of that, it differs in the amount of coverage that is required from state to state. States may differ in the types of injuries that are covered, statute of limitations, and employer defenses against claims, such as self-inflicted injuries, willful misconduct, or drug/alcohol related injuries.
How Worker’s Compensation Benefits Employees
Worker’s Compensation covers lost income and medical expenses incurred as a result of any work-related injury or illness.
If you have been injured in the workplace, your employer should be insured and able to provide appropriate compensation. Your employer should have submitted a report to their insurance provider for review. If that claim is approved, you should be entitled to compensation.
For an employee to meet Worker's Compensation requirements, they must:
1. Be Classified as an Employee
These employees may either be full-time or part-time. If the company expects you to work certain hours at certain location, you are likely to be considered an employee. Another way to determine if you are an employee is if you receive a W2 to file your income taxes independent contractors are not eligible to receive Worker's Compensation benefits.
Because Worker's Compensation is disbursed by the state, federal government employees aren't covered. Instead, they receive benefits from plans authorized by Congress.
2. Work for Employers Who Are Insured
Check with your employer to make sure they are insured and get the specifics as to what exactly is insured. Just because they are insured, that doesn't mean every injury, common and uncommon, will be insured. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Labor's website to see if your employer is insured, research the laws by state, or schedule a consultation with a competent personal injury attorney who can help you navigate the laws surrounding Worker's Compensation.
3. Sustain a Work-Related Injury
Worker's Compensation covers a broad range of work-related injuries. The injuries covered could be accidents in the workplace, repetitive-motion injuries, illnesses due to working conditions, hearing loss, emotional and mental stress inflicted on employees are examples of injuries that may be covered.
Accidents resulting from employee misconduct, on your commute to work, or away from the workplace during your break are a few of incidents that aren't covered by Worker's Compensation.
4. Report the Injury Within Deadlines
Every state requires that a claim be filed within a given amount of time. Wyoming has one of the shortest deadlines of only 3 day whereas some states can be as long as 2 years, like New Hampshire. Most states have a window of about 30 days. That being said, the general guideline is to report the injury as soon as possible.
Document the injury to the best of your ability. If you slip and fall, take pictures of the ground and your pants to show how wet the ground is. When you report your injury, write it down with the date, time, and location. Be as detailed as possible. If you have a good case, documentation will only make it stronger.
If your injury is due to your employer failing to comply with regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), document that with pictures or video if possible. Review the applicable regulations on OSHA's website regularly. You should be sure your employer is complying with necessary safety standards.
5. Attend All Medical Appointments
Insurance companies are always monitoring claimants for fraud. The first thing they will look at is whether or not you are actually injured or just trying to get money. If you're not attending your doctor's appointments, that's a indicator that it must not be a serious injury if one at all. Insurance companies will examine your life very closely to make sure that you are actually injured.
Personal injury attorneys often work closely with doctors because they provide reliable and detailed reports for their clients. This also goes back to the previous point. If a licensed medical professional examines your injury, they will document it and will make your case stronger. By attending your medical appointments, you are helping your attorney build up a case in your favor.
Our team at Wilkerson Law Group is ready to assist employers in getting their business insured and protected. If you are an employee who has been injured or have a loved one who has experienced a wrongful death, contact us to see how we can help you.