Understanding Workers’ Compensation Eligibility

If a work-related injury keeps you from working, you and your family may be counting on workers’ compensation insurance to help cover your medical bills and living expenses. Unfortunately, you may not qualify for workers’ compensation insurance under certain circumstances. If in need of assistance a workers compensation lawyer can be of service from a firm like Hickey & Turim, SC.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cover?

Employers must have workers’ compensation insurance in most states to cover all their employees whose injuries or illnesses happen while performing their jobs. Benefits include:

  • Medical expenses and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Long-term care
  • Child care
  • Vocational training
  • Funeral expenses

What Factors Affect Coverage?

Each state has separate criteria governing which businesses must offer workers’ compensation insurance and eligibility claims. For example, each state determines the minimum number of workers that companies in non-exempt industries must employ. They also monitor the time frame for submitting claims, and the nature of an injury or illness that qualifies for coverage and when it occurred.

Who Does Not Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

All states except Texas require companies meeting their state’s criteria to offer workers’ compensation insurance to qualified employees. Still, many workers do not qualify as employees or work in exempt industries or circumstances. Workers who fall into the following categories are usually ineligible to receive workers’ compensation:

  • Volunteers: Most workers who volunteer their services do not qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. Exceptions usually include firefighters or police officers who volunteer their services ongoingly or during an emergency.
  • Independent Contractors: These workers do not receive a steady paycheck from which an employer deducts taxes and do not rely upon an employer to dictate how they perform a service. They also do not rely upon companies’ supplies, tools or equipment to perform their services.
  • Domestic Workers: In most instances, states do not require employers to offer workers’ compensation benefits to domestic workers, including nannies, maids and chauffeurs, working fewer than a specific number of weekly hours and earning below a state’s wage threshold. 
  • Inter-state Railroad and Longshore or Harbor Workers: When workers in any of these categories experience a work-related injury or illness, they must initiate a lawsuit for damages because their employers are exempt from offering workers’ compensation. Although a significant benefit of workers’ compensation is that it discourages lawsuits, these are instances in which legal action is preferable.

If you are injured while performing a job for someone else, you may wonder if you qualify for workers’ compensation to help pay your bills. The answer can be confusing but contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible will help you sort out the requirements for getting the financial help you need.