Workman’s compensation laws are a system of rules designed to pay the expenses of employees who are injured or become ill while performing job-related duties. Employees can receive payments to cover lost wages, medical expenses, disability payments, and rehabilitation and retraining costs.
To be eligible to receive workers’ compensation, you must meet three eligibility requirements.
The person or company you work for must carry workers’ compensation insurance or be legally required to do so.
You must be an employee of that company or person.
Your injury or illness must be a direct result of your work.
If you’re looking for additional advice or consultations in Rhode Island, attorney Chad. F. Bank can help you navigate workers’ compensation laws and defend your claims.
When Should I Look into Workman’s Compensation?
If you are injured or fall ill at work due to a work-related duty or environment, you should consult your state’s workers’ compensation laws. This can include being in a company vehicle, attending a company event, or even other locations as long as the employee is doing something for work. However, these situations can be more specific than simple “injuries” or “illnesses.”
If you receive medical care due to an incident or situation at work, then you should qualify for workman’s compensation. Compensation will include hospital and medical expenses from identifying and treating your illness or injury. Some states excluded, your doctor visits, medication, and surgeries will also be covered. Some states will go further and cover equipment, such as wheelchairs or special vehicles, counseling, pain therapy, and acupuncture.
If an incident at work requires rehabilitation, workman’s compensation will cover the medical and therapeutic care. If you need training to regain skills and abilities to return to work, workman’s compensation will cover those expenses as well.
Workman’s Compensation Severe Injury
If you become disabled at work due to a work-related incident, you need to check your state’s workman’s compensation laws. You can receive workers’ compensation for the wages lost. However, the amount you receive will vary on your income before disability and your state’s compensation laws. You will also need to identify if your disability is total or partial. A total disability means that you are unable to at all. A partial disability only prevents you from doing some of your duties. Once your disability is classified a total or partial, you will then classify it as permanent or temporary. A temporary disability means that you are unable to work for a specific amount of time. A permanent disability is as it sounds: you will not be able to return to work.
If someone dies due to a work-related incident, then their family may receive workman’s compensation benefits. This can include a spouse, child, parent, or sibling, but they must be a dependant of the worker. Compensation usually includes funeral and burial expenses, as well as compensate for a loss of financial support. Some states have minimum and maximum amounts and some provide a lump sum. It’s especially important to research your state’s workman’s compensation laws if someone you are dependant on or related to passes away and qualified for workers’ compensation.
Ineligibility Issues in Workman’s Compensation Laws
Not everyone is covered under workers’ compensation laws, and some of these eligibility issues are state specific or due to your type of employment. If you fall into any of the below categories, you need to do more research on workers’ compensation laws in your state.
If you sustain an injury at work, and your employer claims you are ineligible because you are an independent contractor, you should investigate more deeply into workers’ compensation laws. Many employers misclassify employees and independent contractors, so it’s best to double check your state’s laws. If you are still unsure, consult with an attorney.
Not all states cover volunteers under workman’s compensation laws. If you are a volunteer and you were injured or fell ill due to volunteering for a company, check your state’s workers’ compensation laws to see if you are eligible for compensation.
Even if you are an employee of a company, you may still not qualify for compensation. Domestic workers (someone who works in a home, such as a housekeeper or babysitter), agricultural and farm workers, leased or loaned workers (such as employees of temp agencies), casual or seasonal workers, or undocumented workers, do not always qualify for workman’s compensation. If you fall into one of these categories or your employer claims you fall into one of these categories, you need to research your state’s workers’ compensation laws. Some states provide exceptions, and if you still need more information, consider consulting an attorney.
How Do Workers’ Compensation Laws Apply to Me If I am in a Labor Union?
States require the same amount of coverage for workers’ compensation for both union employees and non-unemployees. However, if the union participates in collective bargaining or has a union welfare fund, the injured employee may receive additional workers’ compensation benefits through the labor union.
Additionally, if your state doesn’t require your employer to hold your job for you while you recover from a work-related incident and receive workers’ compensation, a union may help. Most unions have a labor agreement that requires the employer to hold the employee’s job for them.
Labor unions are also helpful in preventing work-related incidents. As labor unions support and require safety improvements, they are ensuring better work environments for the workforce. This helps reduce work-related incidents and protects workers.
Can I Get Workman’s Compensation If I’m Military?
If you are military personnel and were injured on the battlefield, your benefits are administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs instead of workman’s compensation laws. If you receive a disability from active military service, you may be eligible for disability compensation.
Alternatively, veterans with PTSD may be able to receive workers’ compensation. You will need to consult your state’s laws or an attorney to see if you are eligible.
Civilian contractors that are killed or disabled while performing their duties for the federal government receive benefits from the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act (FECA) instead of workers’ compensation laws.
If you are having trouble receiving your benefits as military personnel, be sure to consult with an attorney as you may be able to receive benefits elsewhere or sue for delayed treatment.
For additional resources about workers’ compensation laws, benefits, and if you can sue your employer instead, visit FindLaw’s “Workers’ Compensation Basics” page. Or contact attorney Chad F. Bank for cases in Rhode Island.