Injuries happen, whether it happens in the comfort of your own home or at work. Fortunately for work, you should be compensated by your employer for that injury. There are various employer laws in place that protect you if you injure yourself on the job, such as workers' compensation insurance. But what are your employer's responsibilities?
What Is a Work-Related Injury?
First, let's talk about what defines an injury obtained at work? Is it simply any kind of injury you sustain at a work or more related to a serious injury you acquired over time?
If you acquire an injury on behalf of your employer or while at work, then it's a work-related injury. Don't forget to include this in with any sort of gathering your employer requests or requires you to attend, such as dinners, parties, or any other social events sponsored by your employer that may be off the property.
Were You Following the Guidelines?
Another thing we need to talk about is if you were following proper guidelines when you obtained this injury. You should always talk to your HR representative about this specifically, but your employers' policy may cover your injury in this case. However, not all states are created equal and might try to fight you on this.
What's the Policy?
Before submitting a worker's compensation report, you should review in your policy whether the following applies your employer's policy:
- You injured yourself during lunch hour, which is typically not considered work-related unless it occurred because of your location, such as a company cafeteria.
- If alcohol is in question, you should still be considered in the policy if it occurred at an event sponsored by your employer.
- You should consider reporting if you had a condition that worsened while you were doing your job and wouldn't have worsened without.
- Mental health should also be a consideration as they need to be treated the same as physical injuries, as long as they occurred while on the job.
Make sure you're not an independent contractor because employers in most states are only required to have workers' compensation insurance for people officially called “employees.”
If you live in Idaho or Wyoming and you're an undocumented worker, your employer is not required to cover you. However, if you live in Texas, California, or Arizona, undocumented workers are included in the policy. But it's still important to review your employer's policy.
If for whatever reason having a workers' compensation report isn't an option for you, here are a few other resources that can give you some help:
- The Black Lung Benefits Act will provide compensation for anyone previously or currently considered a miner that has sustained a disease called “black lung.”
- The Merchant Marine Act provides those working at sea with protection from employer negligence.
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act will provide specialized injury compensation coverage for private maritime employees.
- If you aren't affiliated with the military but are considered a federal employee, you are covered by the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.
- Finally, the Federal Employment Liability Act applies to you if you've worked on a railroad and sustain an injury.
If you sustained a work-related injury or illness, it could take a long time for you to show symptoms. If you're still not sure whether you qualify for workers' compensation, then you should get a legal evaluation.
Even if you go to the hospital for immediate attention, your worker can still pay for some, if not all, of your medical bills once you file a claim. But if you want to make sure you'll get covered, speak to a local law firm so that you can be sure you're covered.