Most people never learn about workers' compensation until they are injured on the job and attempt to navigate the system. However, it's important to have at least some understanding about workers' compensation so you know your rights and responsibilities, should you ever be involved in a workplace accident.
Workers compensation benefits are available to most workers who are injured in accidents on the job or suffer from work-related illnesses. The benefits are intended to cover medical costs and lost wages stemming from the injury or illness.
Even though most employers throughout the United States are required to purchase workers' compensation insurance, not all workers are covered, including agricultural workers, domestic workers and independent contractors. This is something that you want to be aware of before you accept a job.
Additionally, not every incident that leaves a worker injured on the job is considered a "workplace accident" for purposes of workers' compensation. There has to be a link between the injury or illness and the job.
For example, if a random person opens fire on an office building, injuring several workers, the workers likely wouldn't be entitled to benefits because the incident had nothing to do with their work. However, if the office was owned by a debt collection company and the shooter was a disgruntled debtor, the workers could have an argument that they are entitled to benefits.
Workers' compensation laws also vary from state to state. This is because states have the ability to set their own guidelines and standards with regard to workers' compensation. For example, the maximum workers' compensation benefit for lost pay in Texas is $725 a week, while it could be much higher or lower in other states.
Please check back next week for more important information on workers' compensation benefits.
Source: STL Today, "10 Things to Know About Workers' Compensation," Dona DeZube, May 1, 2012
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