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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

When is my injury not covered by worker's compensation?

The purpose of workers' compensation coverage is to ensure that employees who are injured while performing job duties are financially covered during recovery periods. That means covering the cost of medical treatments and possibly reimbursing employees for lost wages if they can't work because they are injured. However, workers' compensation doesn't cover all injuries, even when they occur on a job site.

First, to receive workers' compensation benefits, you actually have to be covered by such a plan. Some freelance or contract workers are not covered by such plans, and very small businesses with only one or two employees don't always have to have workers' compensation coverage. The same is true if you work for yourself.

Second, workers' compensation typically only covers injuries that occurred during the appropriate scope of your job. That means if you are a construction worker and you decide to do a back flip off a piece of equipment just for fun, workers' compensation probably isn't going to cover any injuries that you incur because of that action. A back flip is not usually a required or necessary function in a person's construction-related job. Yes, it's a bit of a silly example, but it illustrates the point that actions far outside your job requirements might not be covered.

Finally, workers' compensation usually won't pay if you are injured in an accident that was caused by your own drug or alcohol use. However, it might pay if you were injured in an accident caused by another worker's inebriation or out-of-job-scope behavior.

If you believe you are dealing with a work-related injury and workers' compensation isn't stepping up to cover costs, don't give up. Consider working with an employment law professional to file and follow up with all your claims.

Source: FindLaw, "Construction Injuries FAQ," accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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