Determining if an injury that occurred in a work environment is covered under workers’ compensation can be complicated. With so many different types of situations, workplace accidents and employee injuries, eligibility is not always clear-cut. Understanding some of the basics about how workers’ compensation works can be helpful.
Workers’ Compensation Basics
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that nearly all companies must have for their employees. It helps workers recover a portion of their lost wages when they are unable to work due a work-related injury or disability. In addition, it can provide for medical expenses; benefits to the employee’s family if the employee is fatally injured on the job; permanent injury compensation; and work retraining costs. It is a state-mandated program, and the federal government has a separate program for specific classes of employees, such as maritime workers.
Employees vs. Independent Contractors
Not every worker is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Full-time and part-time company employees are generally covered, including temporary and seasonal workers. Independent contractors are usually not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Those who work in sales or other categories, like domestic workers, can fall into either category.
Where Did the Injury Occur?
Work-related injuries can occur at a workplace, and at other locales where the employee was performing an activity on behalf of their employer, or as part of their work. They can happen in company vehicles, and at company-sponsored events like holiday parties, seminars, or dinner with a customer.
Types of Injuries
Some of the most frequent injuries covered are fractures, head injuries, paralysis, sprains, and lacerations. Other common injuries, like repetitive motion injuries, develop over time. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, cumulative trauma disorders, and repetitive stress injuries.
Occupational illnesses are caused by exposure to hazardous work conditions. One of the most well-known is mesothelioma, which is directly linked to asbestos exposure.
Allergic reactions and asthma can also occur from breathing in or coming into contact with certain substances. These can lead to respiratory conditions such as tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), silicosis, and chronic obstructive bronchitis.
Skin diseases and disorders like burns, rashes, ulcers, and contact dermatitis may result through contact with toxic chemicals and plants. Work-related hearing loss can occur if the employee is exposed to certain chemicals, but most frequently is due to very high noise levels, and can be quite severe.
These injuries may not be visible, but they can be covered. Courts now recognize that conditions like job-related stress can lead to injuries, and diseases like cancer and heart disease. These happen much more frequently than people think, but can be particularly challenging to prove.
Who is at Fault?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. However, an employer’s insurance may not cover certain workers’ compensation claims. Employees could be hard pressed to make a valid claim if the injuries occurred due to their misconduct. For example, if a worker is hurt while intoxicated or while fighting, that could disqualify their claims. Other factors for employee liability include using illegal drugs, or self-inflicted wounds and pain.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Injured Workers
If you need guidance with a workers’ compensation claim, look no further than the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Call us today for a free case evaluation at 888-999-1962 or contact us online. We have offices in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, and Pinehurst to represent clients across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina.