Workers' compensation is a government-mandated system that pays monetary benefits to workers who become injured or disabled in the course of their employment. Workers' compensation is a type of insurance that offers employees compensation for injuries or disabilities sustained as a result of their employment.
- Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays workers who are injured or become disabled as a result of their job.
- Accepting workers’ comp benefits means the employee give up the right to sue their employer.
- Most compensation plans offer coverage of medical fees related to injuries occured as a direct result of employment.
- Workers’ comp is not the same as unemployment benefits or disability insurance.
What Does Workers' Compensation Cover?
Workers' compensation laws only cover work-related injury or illness. But, the injury or illness does not necessarily have to occur in the workplace. As long as it's job-related, it's covered. For example, employees are covered if they are injured while traveling on business trip, running a work-related assignment, or attending a business-related social function. Covered injuries and illnesses can range from sudden accidents -- such as falling off a scaffold -- to injuries that develop over time, such as repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), or illnesses from exposure to workplace chemicals.
What Are an Employer's Responsibilities for Workers' Compensation?
In most states, employers are required to purchase insurance for their employees from a workers' compensation insurance carrier. In some states, larger employers with enough assets are allowed to self-insure, or act as their own insurance companies, while smaller companies (with fewer than three or four employees) are exempt.
There may be instances where you may sue your employer instead, but workers' compensation is considered the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries in most states. This is why failure to provide workers' compensation insurance coverage can result in steep penalty against the offending employer.
In addition to providing workers' compensation coverage, in most states, employers must perform some, if not all, of the following duties:
- Post a notice of compliance with workers' compensation laws in a noticeable place at each job site.
- Provide immediate emergency medical treatment for employees who sustain on-the-job injuries.
- Furnish further medical attention if an injured worker is unable to select a doctor or advises the employer in writing of a desire not to do so.
- Complete a report of the injury and mail it to the nearest workers' compensation board office. A copy of the report should also be mailed to the employer's insurance company. An employer who refuses or neglects to make an injury report may be guilty of a felony, punishable by a fine.
- Make a written report of every accident resulting in personal injury that causes a loss of time from regular duties beyond the working day or shift on which the accident occurred or that requires medical treatment beyond first aid or more than two treatments by a doctor or persons rendering first aid.
- Comply with all requests for further information regarding injured workers by the workers' compensation board or the insurance company, such as statements of the employee's earnings before and after the accident, reports of the date of the employee's return to work, or other reports that may be required to determine the employee's work status following the injury.