What is Workers’ Compensation and Who Qualifies?
You may know workers’ compensation as an insurance program that provides special payment to employees suffering from work-related injuries and illness. If an employee finds themselves eligible, they will receive compensation for lost work and medical bills no matter who was at fault. However, did you know that when you bring on a workers’ compensation claim, you forfeit the right to sue your employer? This is the catch, as both parties win in their own ways. Here are some other requirements that must be met to qualify for these benefits:
- Is your employer covered by workers’ compensation? As you may know, not every employer has to carry workers’ compensation and it will largely depend on how many employees the company has as well as what type of business it is. It is a general rule that the vast majority of employers must carry this insurance. Many employers that do not need to carry workers’ compensation will opt to carry it anyway because, if an injury occurs on their premises, then an employee will not be able to sue.
- Are you an actual employee? You may not be an actual employee through your company. For instance, if you are an independent contractor like a freelance writer or artist, you are not entitled to benefits when you are injured. However, some employers may try to tell you that you are an independent contractor when you really aren’t. For this, you will need to speak to an attorney about your rights.
- Is your injury or illness work-related? If you were doing something for the benefit of your employer and became ill or injured, then it is considered to be “work-related.” However, it may not always be so clear. What happens when you are injured delivering something on the road for your boss? Was this within the limits of work? This is something that will have to be determined to discover if you are eligible. Injuries that occur traveling to and from your regular place of employment are usually not covered under workers’ compensation either.
Do you fall into a special group of workers? Perhaps you are still unsure of whether or not your workplace covers you under workers’ compensation benefits. Here are some exempt categories that you must be aware of:
- Domestic Workers: This is somebody who works in a home like a housekeeper or babysitter. They may not be covered under workers’ compensation.
- Agricultural Workers: Those who work on a farm may not be covered by compensation. However, not everybody will fall into this category. Take, for instance, a horse trainer, which is not somebody working on the farm but coming to do work there for someone.
- Seasonal Workers: Do you work only certain times of the year when needed? Then you are a seasonal worker and may not be covered.
- Undocumented Workers: New Jersey is not one of the states that cover undocumented workers in workers’ compensation; however, New York is. The courts will usually deal over who will cover these employees if they end up becoming injured.
So, what do you do if your employer doesn’t cover you?
As mentioned, all employers are either required to have workers’ compensation or be self-insured. However, if they do not, you will be able to take actions against them. You could either sue your employer or you can file a workers’ compensation claim with your state’s special fund for handling uninsured workers’ compensation claims, if such a fund exists. However, it is also in your best interest to hire an attorney to work on your side. Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today. We have the experience needed to handle workplace injury cases and get you the compensation you are entitled to.