Workplace accidents happen more often than employers like. Even with perfect safety training procedures locked in place, accidents are inevitable. But that’s why there are programs designed to help both employee and employer navigate these difficult situations. Workers compensation is a fund set up both to cover an employee’s medical costs after an accident, and also to prevent the employee from filing a frivolous lawsuit that could hurt the employer’s business.
When is an employee eligible for workers compensation?
Well, first let’s cover when an employee is not eligible. The workplace must actually carry worker’s compensation. This is a small charge usually deducted from each paycheck. The second rule that might leave someone ineligible is called a statute of limitations. Different states have different statutes of limitations laws. For example, Florida provides employees with two years to receive treatment for a workplace injury and recoup medical expenses through workers comp. In other words, don’t wait!
An anonymous attorney at Castronovo said, “Most of our clients who receive workers compensation believed their employees did not file correctly or made a clerical error. Other clients did not receive nearly enough from the pool as they should have. We still accept clients who cannot file for workers compensation because the statute of limitations has elapsed, because there are still other options available. But we definitely recommend speaking to a lawyer immediately after any accident.”
A person who works under the table is also ineligible for workers compensation. This is one situation where a person has significant legal recourse following an accident or injury, because employers who pay under the table wages rob the recipient of that cash of the same right and rewards as other employees. Benefits like workers compensation go out the window. But the employer is also subject to tax evasion charges. (The employee can still file taxes on under the table wages to avoid the same).
Suing an employer that has broken these laws is often easier.
The good news is this: almost all employers are required to carry this type of insurance as a result of size, number of employees, and state law. Smaller businesses might be exempt. Charities might also be exempt. Not sure if your employer is covered? You can ask yourself or contact a lawyer to communicate on your behalf. You should also contact a lawyer if you were denied coverage for no reason.
You might also be ineligible for workers compensation if you are considered a contractor. This is part of the reason why ridesharing app employers like Uber and Lyft are under scrutiny. Driving for a living is a job with obvious hazards. Classifying all employers as private contractors means they aren’t eligible for workers comp. That’s good for an employer, but bad for employees. Many freelancers work from home or away from the dangers of a typical workplace, so missing out on workers compensation is no big deal.