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Workers’ Compensation: What You Need to Know

If you’ve been injured while working, you’re likely covered under workers’ compensation insurance. However, many misconceptions or misunderstandings surround the workers’ compensation process. For many, this confusion could lead to not putting in a claim at all or not putting in a claim in a timely manner. Here are some of the most important things that you need to know.

Workers’ Compensation Usually Doesn’t Consider Liability

The first thing you should be aware of is that workers’ compensation (in general) doesn’t consider liability. In other words, even if you or your co-worker caused the injury, your injury is still covered. It’s expected that people make mistakes.

The only exception to this is generally gross negligence and illegal behavior. If you were doing something that was clearly against company policy or if you were impaired while working, that could invalidate your claim.

Workers’ Compensation Has a Cap

Though it varies by state, the amount that can be paid through workers’ compensation does have a cap. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance policy, which means it only covers a company up to so much money. Once this amount runs out, then medical expenses will need to be covered in another way.

If your employer was liable for your injury, you may be able to pursue damages separately. In fact, you may have to so you can cover your full medical expenses.

Workers’ Compensation Is a Requirement 

In nearly every state, businesses are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if it is a small business with few employees. Many employees may think that because they work for smaller businesses, they aren’t covered by workers’ compensation. They might also believe a business owner who says they don’t have it or aren’t required to have it. In many cases, this won’t be true.

Workers’ Compensation May Apply to Independent Contractors 

Some businesses attempt to get around workers’ compensation by claiming that all their employees are independent contractors. If you are truly an independent contractor, then workers’ compensation isn’t likely to apply to you.

However, if you act as an employee, then you still should be covered under workers’ compensation. Acting as an employee can be a bit of a vague term, but it generally includes being under management and working on premises.

Workers’ Compensation Covers Out-of-Office Injuries

Workers’ compensation isn’t just designed to cover injuries that occur in the office or at the place of work. Workers’ compensation includes activities the employee was doing within the scope of their work.

As an example, an office assistant who is injured picking up supplies during business hours is likely to still be covered under workers’ compensation. On the other hand, someone buying equipment for their job outside of office hours may not be.

Workers’ Compensation Can Cover Preexisting Injuries

Though the injuries themselves usually won’t be covered, they will be covered if they were somehow made worse during the course of your employment. For instance, if you have a back injury and your back’s health declines over the course of your work at an office, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Of course, in this situation you will also need to show that your back got worse as a course of the actions you took at work. This is one of the many reasons why you should keep thorough medical documentation.

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex. Because a workers’ compensation claim may not cover all of your medical needs, you need to handle the case right from the start. If you have been injured on the job or at work, contact The Lowry Law Firm today.

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