An injury at work can lead to difficult and sometimes life-altering complications for workers. Will they ever return to work, how will they pay for extended care and rehabilitation, and who will pay the bills while they recover?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2.9 million workers were injured in the workplace in 2016, and 4,764 died from those injuries. Over 50% of workers required time off because of an injury or illness, and workplace injuries cost employees, employers, and insurance companies more than $163 billion a year.
Workers’ compensation insurance is required of employers in 49 states to protect an injured employee while shielding employers from a lawsuit. In return, an injured worker (or family member) can file a claim to help with medical costs, disability benefits, lost wages, and death benefits, if applicable.
What qualifies for workers’ compensation?
Work-related accidents are defined as any injury, illness, or condition you experience during your employment with a company, and related to your job duties and tasks while at work. Many workplace injuries are found in these seven categories:
- Musculoskeletal injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders often result from overexertion, lifting heavy objects, typing, and other run-of-the-mill job-related tasks.
- Slip-and-fall injuries.
- Repetitive motion injuries. Have you ever suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome at work? If so, you’re not alone – according to one survey, 20 percent of workers reported suffering work-related injuries caused by repetitive motion.
- Injured by machinery or struck by an object. From defective machinery and equipment to improper maintenance, employees who suffer injuries from such items can look into workers’ comp and product liability claims against the manufacturer.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Workplace violence.
- Burns. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that several types of burns may occur at work, including thermal, electrical, and chemical burns. Employers are required to follow workplace safety rules set forth by OSHA and provide protective equipment, if necessary.
Does worker’s compensation cover Covid-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased worker illnesses during 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a complicated “maybe.” Typically, workers’ comp does not cover common community-spread illnesses like the cold or flu because they usually cannot be directly tied to the workplace. COVID-19 presents a unique circumstance where many jobs not typically considered overly hazardous, like health care, meat-packing, or grocery store work, are at a high risk of exposure to the virus.
In total, 28 states and Puerto Rico have taken action to extend workers’ compensation coverage to include COVID-19 as a work-related illness.
You should know what your workers’ comp insurance covers
Employees should know exactly what their insurance covers because the bottom line is workers’ compensation is limited. It does not cover noneconomic or punitive damages. Big bills can stack up quickly. And if recklessness or negligence caused the injury, third-party claims might be one more path to justice.
Because these are often complicated legal issues, your best bet if injured at work – no matter how straightforward it looks – is to contact a personal injury lawyer. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.