Here are three work-related injury scenarios to ponder: While working construction, a man falls from scaffolding and breaks several bones; two co-workers have a friendly food-fight in the company cafeteria when one gets hurt after falling; lastly, a nanny severely burns her hand while cooking a meal for her employer.
The question: Are any of these people eligible for workers' compensation? In the latter two examples, the answer is no. Meanwhile, the worker in the first scenario would qualify for workers' compensation as long he or she is an employee of the company doing the work at the site.
Employee status and work-related injuries
If a person becomes hurt due to job-related injuries, they may file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, which are meant to cover lost wages and medical care expenses. But how do you know whether you qualify for workers' compensation benefits?
The main criteria in determining eligibility for workers' compensation are a person's employee status and whether the injury was actually work-related. If you're a full-time or part-time employee with benefits, you will likely qualify for workers' compensation.
Reasons for ineligibility
However, here are some reasons why a person is ineligible:
- Contract work status: ince independent contractors who work for a company are not actually employees, they are not covered by that company's workers' compensation policy. (However, if you are employed through a staffing agency and have been farmed out to another company, the agency would likely be responsible for any workers' compensation coverage.)
- Off the clock: The injury did not take place at work.
- Personal negligence: The injury was the result of horseplay, as in the example noted of the two employees and the food fight.
- Not related to your actual job: The injury occurred while a person was not performing his or her official work duties.
Other scenarios where workers don't qualify
There are other situations in which you may not qualify for workers' compensation, even if you have a legitimate work-related injury. You may be out of luck if your employment status is considered exempt. This specifically relates to:
- Undocumented workers
- Seasonal workers
- Domestic workers (such as the nanny referred to earlier)
- Agriculture workers
The main thing to remember is to play it safe at work. Follow general safety guidelines, which may help prevent you from being injured. But also remember that as long as you are an employee of a company and do get hurt on the job, you likely will qualify for workers' compensation.