Tips For Figuring Out If You're Covered By Workers Comp

Posted on: 13 October 2015

The Federal Government runs a workers' comp program for its employees, but other people are covered under programs administered by their state. The laws vary by state as to which employees need to be covered by this type of insurance. However, there are some general considerations that can help give you a good idea whether you might be able to expect workers' compensation benefits it the case of an injury. Those not covered under workers' compensation laws can sue their employer should an injury occur, while those covered by these laws don't have this option available to them.

Are You an Employee?

People who work as independent contractors, consultants or freelancers aren't considered employees and usually aren't covered under workers comp laws. While there are some exceptions, volunteers usually aren't covered either. Sometimes a business will try to get out of providing benefits by calling some employees independent contractors who are actually employees. A true independent contractor typically has a temporary position, uses their own tools, doesn't have taxes taken out of their pay by an employer and usually decides how to do the job given by the employer on their own. 

Does the Business Carry Workers' Comp Insurance?

Some businesses aren't required by the state to carry this type of insurance. For example, while some states require every business to carry this insurance, others, such as Kansas or Mississippi, only require businesses to have workers' comp insurance if they have a certain number of workers or a payroll above a certain amount. 

Type of Employee

In some states, certain types of employees aren't covered by this insurance, such as part-time employees, seasonal employees, temporary employees, interstate railroad workers, crewmembers on ships, farm workers, undocumented workers and domestic workers. If you fall into one of these categories, you'll need to check your state laws or ask your employer to figure out whether this insurance applies to you.

Is the Injury Work-Related?

For workers' compensation laws to apply, the injury must be work-related. This means that it has to have occurred while you were doing something for your employer. It doesn't necessarily have to occur at work, however, as injuries during business trips, running job-related errands, attending business meetings or work-related educational classes or even during a mandatory company social event may be covered depending on the situation. Injuries don't have to be due to an accident. They could also be due to a job-related illness that develops over time due to the conditions of the job.