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Workers' Comp Benefits: How Injured Do I Have to Be?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

Workers' compensation is the name given to state and federal programs under which workers who are injured on the job can recover for the costs associated with their injuries, including medical bills and lost wages.

To qualify for coverage under workers' compensation insurance, an injury must be work-related. These injuries can include both physical injuries, such as broken bones or carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as mental or emotional injuries such as depression.

But how serious does an injury have to be in order to qualify for workers' compensation benefits?

'Serious' Injury Not Required

Generally, there is no specific level of injury required in order for an employee to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Rather, any time an injury occurs that is employment-related, that injury should be submitted to a company's workers compensation insurance carrier.

That being said, the amount of any benefits received for a work-related injury can depend, not necessarily on the severity of the injury, but rather the medical treatment required and the effect the injury has on the employee's ability to work.

Workers' Compensation Benefits

Workers' compensation programs vary from state to state. Generally, workers' compensation benefits include compensation for:

  • Medical care,
  • Replacement income,
  • Permanent injuries,
  • Retraining or rehabilitation, and
  • Survivor benefits

Workers' compensation benefits will also typically cover lost wages of a worker even when that worker is able to continue working part-time following an injury.

Unreported Injuries

Fear of reprisals or harassment may prevent some workers from reporting a workplace injury. A 2013 FindLaw survey found that nearly 10% of workers decided not to report a workplace injury due to fear of retaliation. However, employers are prohibited under both federal and state law from firing, harassing, or retaliating against workers who file workers' compensation claims.

Learn more about a worker's legal rights following an employment related injury at FindLaw's Learn About the Law section on Workers' Compensation.

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