Workers compensation is something we’ve all heard of, but not many of us could fill you in on the details. Most people assume that if they do get hurt at work, it’ll be covered somehow. Then there are others who don’t think they’ll be covered at all, perhaps due to working at a small business or in a somewhat risky job where bumps and bangs are considered the norm.
Usually, you only need to know the actual details when it’s time to find a lawyer anyway, which has worked for plenty of people. The problem comes when you don’t even know that you have a case to begin with, so we’ve come up with 5 points which you should remember regarding workers compensation.
1. Independent Contractors Can Claim Workers Comp
Some workplaces will assume that having people classified as independent contractors means they aren’t liable for workers comp or workplace injuries. This isn’t true. There’s a list of criteria which must be met for a worker to genuinely be considered an independent contractor, and if these aren’t met then having signed 1099 form isn’t enough to protect the employer from a legitimate claim. Depending on the circumstances and even the state where this happens, the discovery of a 1099 worker who isn’t a true independent contractor can lead to tax fines for the business and even criminal charges.
2. Small Businesses Are Covered
This part varies by state as well, so you have to check your local laws or consult a lawyer before you can be sure. With that said, there are plenty of states which require any business that has an employee, even just one, to provide workers comp insurance. There are also specific business sectors where it’s a legal requirement to have insurance, even if your state only usually requires insurance for firms with, for example, more than 5 workers.
3. You Can Claim Even if You Are Partially Accountable
If you were injured doing something which is within your normal job role to do, then you can still claim – even though you technically injured yourself. This doesn’t apply if there’s any proof of alcohol or drug use, or even poor procedure.
4. You Don’t Have to be AT Work to Claim
Workers comp covers you while you’re performing your job, even if that means you’re not in your workplace. It can even cover you during travel on business trips, or whilst in a hotel or conference room for business reasons. Basically, if it’s an accident that would’ve been avoided if you had a different job, you’re probably covered. On the flipside, when break time hits, you’re under your own responsibility completely – so you aren’t covered if you get hurt messing around on your lunch break.
5. Laws Vary State to State
This has been mentioned but it’s a massive point when it comes to any type of compensation claim. Consult a lawyer and learn as much as possible about your state laws. This is the best way to figure out whether or not you have a case, and what it could be worth.