What Injuries are Covered by Workers' Compensation?
Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance (or workers' comp), which helps employees who have sustained a work-related injury recover lost wages and other accommodations. The types of injuries covered by workers' comp are those which can be connected in some way to an employment requirement or condition. Examples might include lung injuries while working for a construction company, carpal tunnel syndrome caused by too many consecutive hours at an employer's computer, or a sprained ankle after falling from a utility pole while working for a telecommunications company.
This article covers the types of injuries and illnesses covered by workers' compensation insurance.
Work-Related Injuries: What's Covered by Workers' Comp
A work-related injury is one that happens while you are doing something on behalf of your employer or otherwise in the course of employment. Most injuries that can be classified as work-related are those that occur at the workplace, but also may occur in company-owned trucks and other locations as long as the employee was doing something connected to their job or acting within the scope of their employment. This includes company parties and other social events sponsored by an employer, but not necessarily on company-owned property.
For example, a company-sponsored holiday party at a bar would be considered a work-related activity; any injuries incurred at the party could be covered by workers' comp. But if you and your manager decide to go out for drinks after work, it most likely wouldn't be considered "work-related" because it's not an official company event.
Injuries compensable under workers' compensation insurance can sometimes include those resulting from “horseplay" or other instances where employees may have been disregarding workplace safety rules. State laws, and even courts within some states, remain divided on this issue.
If an injury occurs during lunch break, it may be considered work-related if it happens at the company cafeteria, on other employer-owned grounds, or otherwise connected to the course of employment (for example, lunch with a client at a restaurant). Additionally, an injury resulting from inebriation may be considered work-related if alcohol is provided at a company-sponsored event. Mental injuries (such as anxiety or depression) may be covered if they were sustained on the job or caused by the job. Finally, a preexisting condition that has worsened during the course of employment may be covered under workers' compensation as well.
Injuries Covered by Workers Comp: Are You an Employee?
Employers in most states are required to carry workers' compensation insurance, but only workers properly classified as "employees" are covered (as opposed to independent contractors). Some states have nuances, such as Wyoming which does not require coverage of undocumented workers; on the other hand, Arizona, California, Texas, and other states specifically include undocumented immigrant workers in employers' workers' comp coverage.
Depending on your state, certain types of workers may not be covered by workers' comp. While there are variations by state, some examples of exempt workers are listed below:
- Domestic workers (housekeepers, nannies, babysitters)
- Agricultural workers
- Seasonal workers
- Undocumented workers
Learn More About Injuries Covered by Workers' Comp: Contact a Local Attorney
In the best-case scenario, your workers' compensation claim will be processed in a prompt manner and you will receive all of the proper compensation for your injury. But it's not always clear whether your particular injury is covered or even technically work-related, so you may want to speak with a workers' compensation attorney just to be sure.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.