Getting injured is awful for the physical and mental pain it can cause but it is made exponentially worse by how expensive it can be. There are the various costs required for your medical care, such as medications and operations, but these can pale in comparison to the money you fail to make at work while recovering.
If your injury or illness is due to the work you do then it is important that you get compensated. That’s why we have workers’ comp. All employers operating in Massachusetts are required to have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, regardless of how many hours those employees work.
How Does Workers’ Comp Work?
Workers’ comp is a system that provides security to workers who are injured in the course of doing their work. Workplaces can be dangerous spots to be. Construction sites, especially, are known for being incredibly dangerous (which is why they require specialized safety equipment to enter).
Your employer provides you with workers’ compensation in cases where you are injured. This injury doesn’t necessarily have to come about as part of an accident; it can, though, like in a slip and fall injury in a kitchen. But workers’ compensation actually covers other workplace injuries such as when a repetitive movement causes a medical issue, such as a badly torn muscle due to repetitive lifting of heavy boxes.
Workers’ compensation has five key benefits:
- It helps to cover your medical costs.
- It helps to cover wages you lost while recovering.
- It helps to cover wages you lost in the case that you can’t recover.
- It may provide you with vouchers that you can use to help pay for classes and skill training in order to find new employment.
- It helps support your family through payments in cases where you are killed in a workplace situation.
Do I Need to be an Employee to Get Workers’ Comp?
That might seem like a bit of an odd question. After all, don’t you need to be an employee to be a worker? But the answer is no. You could be an employee but you could also be a freelancer, a consultant, an independent contractor, a temp or a volunteer. Each of these groups still works and therefore could be considered a worker but they aren’t necessarily employees of the company.
This is an important distinction to make because it has a direct impact on whether or not you qualify for workers’ compensation. Let’s take a look at each of these worker designations to see who qualifies for workers’ comp and who doesn’t.
- Employees: Employees are the only category that is absolutely entitled to workers’ comp benefits without any caveats. It doesn’t matter if you are a full time employee, part time employee or even a seasonal employee. If you are an employee, you can qualify for workers’ compensation.
- Contractors, Consultants, Freelancers: People that fall into this category are not entitled to workers compensation benefits through their employer. However, it is important to be aware of when an independent contractor becomes an employee because you may actually be qualifying as an employee while being treated as an independent.
- Temps: Temporary workers may qualify for workers compensation in cases where they are technically considered to be an employee. However, temporary workers could be considered independent contractors and so it is important that you figure out what your position is listed as legally.
- Volunteers: Volunteers typically are not covered for workers’ compensation. However, this isn’t always the case. Some organizations go out of their way to pay for workers’ compensation insurance in order to provide their volunteers with workers’ comp should they get injured. But this is the exception, not the norm.
Does an Injury Have to Happen at Work to Qualify for Workers’ Comp?
Some people believe that workers’ compensation only covers injuries that happen while at work. But this isn’t the case. Workers’ compensation isn’t concerned so much about where you are as it is about what you are doing. In the mistaken belief, people think that the injury has to be on the premises of the company in order to count.
This isn’t the case and a quick example could help clear this confusion up.
Pretend you are an employee for the power company and you go out to check on an issue at a local farm. While inspecting the problem, you trip over an unsafe obstacle and break an arm. You weren’t at your place of employment, so if the mistaken belief was correct, then you wouldn’t be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, the only reason you were there was because you were fulfilling your work duties. Therefore, you were injured while doing your work. The location doesn’t matter (though in this example you may have the grounds for a premises liability case).
There are some other cases in which workers’ compensation will fit, too, that show that the location you are in isn’t always the most important element. If you leave work to pick up some supplies or equipment and get into an accident, then you’ll qualify. In this modern age with more people working from home, you can qualify for workers’ compensation if you are injured while at your computer.
It should be noted that the location you are injured in can have an impact. If you are at the office for a Christmas party and get injured, you could still qualify. You weren’t doing work necessarily but you were still there because of your work.
How Do I File for Workers’ Comp?
Filing for workers’ compensation can be a bit confusing. You need to inform your employer of your injury, meet with a doctor, follow their treatment plan, and submit documents to your employer on your behalf.
It can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to save your energy for recovering so you can get back to your life as quickly as possible.
That’s why it can be so important to get help to get started. With over 55 years of personal injury law success, Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. knows what steps to take and can help make your struggles easier. Give us a call today at (617) 600-0439 to see how we can help.