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Workers' Comp: What Injuries Are Covered?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Workers' compensation, known more commonly as "workers' comp" or "workmans' comp," provides a system by which employees and their families can submit claims for injuries, illness, and even a death that is connected to their employment.

The purpose of workers' comp procedures is to ensure that employees can receive compensation for work-related injuries without resorting to suing their employers.

But as many workers discover, only certain injuries are covered by the workers' comp system.

The lion's share of workers' comp claims deal with injuries incurred while on the job. While state laws differ as to what counts as "work-related," workers comp typically covers injuries that occur:

  • At the workplace,
  • In the scope of employment (i.e., while performing job-related tasks),
  • At work-sponsored events, and
  • During horseplay if not properly supervised.

Workers' comp can include injuries that were due to a worker's own negligence, as long as the worker was on the clock.

It typically does not cover self-inflicted injuries, employees who were intoxicated while injured, or those injuries which occurred while in violation of company policy or criminal law.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Some of the most common forms of work-related injuries are those caused by repetitive motion, including:

  • Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs),
  • Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), and
  • Repeated motion injuries (RMIs).

Repetitive motion injuries which are caused by or aggravated due to working conditions will likely be covered by worker's comp.

Many former professional athletes have successfully filed workers' comp claims for these types of cumulative trauma injuries, ranging from serious head injuries to joint trauma.

According to the Los Angeles Times, California, which has been host to claims by veteran athletes like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, is poised to tighten its workers' comp laws to make it harder for athletes to recover for long-past injuries.

Occupational Illness

Some jobs, due to their high-stress or dangerous environment, have illnesses associated with them, like mesothelioma (in the asbestos industry) or black lung (commonly affecting coal miners).

These diseases are often covered by worker's comp as long as the disease is diagnosed and documented.

Death on the Job

Relatives of a worker who dies as a result of his work (i.e., is either killed on the job or dies from a work-related injury or illness) can potentially collect workers' comp. This saves a worker's dependents from having to file a wrongful death suit against the employer.

If you have questions about a work injury and whether you can receive workers' comp, contact an experienced workers' comp attorney in your area for a consultation.

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