How do I know if I’m covered under workers’ compensation?
The eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation insurance vary by state, so to determine eligibility, you will need to take a look at your state-specific laws. You should look for the following information to determine if you’re covered under workers’ compensation:
Is Your Employer Required to Provide Workers’ Compensation Insurance to Employees?
States have different rules about what types of employers are required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees.
For example, in New Jersey, almost all employers must provide workers’ compensation for their employees. This includes part-time and seasonal employees who are paid wages or salaries that have taxes deducted. This type of insurance is not required for contractors, interns, or volunteers.
In other states, not all employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. In Texas, employers are not required to provide workers’ compensation for their employees.
Knowing whether you’re covered is important, so always check your state laws and speak with an experienced attorney if you have questions.
Are You An Eligible Employee for This Insurance?
If your employer is required to provide employees with workers’ compensation insurance, the next question is whether you’re in the category of employees that qualifies.
Let’s use New Jersey as an example again. In New Jersey, you must meet the definition of an employee to be eligible. There are two ways that New Jersey courts analyze this: the control test and the relative nature of the work test.
Under the control test, the courts look at whether the business you’re working for has the right to supervise you and control what work will be done as well as how the work is done. If this is the case, you are likely an employee. If you are doing work for the business but they have no control over how you get the work done, you are probably not an employee.
Under the relative nature of the work test, you are an employee if you rely on income from the company, and the work you perform for the company is an integral part of the activities of the company.
If you meet the requirements under either or both of these tests, you are probably an employee and will qualify for workers’ compensation insurance if your employer is required to provide it.
Other states have different ways to determine eligibility. In most states, you are probably considered an employee unless you are an independent contractor, freelancer, or consultant. Still, some employers will try to classify employees as independent contractors as a way to avoid providing certain benefits, so it’s always important to speak with a professional if you are injured at work. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation even though your employer is trying to claim that you are an independent contractor.
Typically, all states have specific exceptions to eligibility requirements. Railroad workers, longshoremen, federal employees, and domestic workers usually aren’t eligible for typical workers’ compensation insurance and will have to pursue compensation via a different avenue.
Is Your Injury One That Is Covered by Workers’ Comp?
The next important piece of the workers’ comp puzzle is whether the injury or illness you suffered is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Most states have the same law surrounding this.
First, the injury must have occurred in the workplace or while performing work-related tasks. Typically, this does not include commuting to or from work or on meal breaks. However, if part of your job is driving, you can certainly still be covered under workers’ compensation insurance even if you weren’t in your company’s physical office at the time of your injury.
Next, it’s important to understand what is considered a work-related injury. Your injury must occur as a result of activities that are in the course and scope of your employment. In most states, you must be acting in the furtherance of the business to be eligible.
For example, if you are moving your desk from the office to your car to bring it home because you don’t need it at the office anymore and injure yourself in the process, you may not be covered, as this is not an activity that is in the course or scope of your employment.
Did You Take the Proper Steps After Your Injury?
If you’re eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the final step you need to take to determine if you’re covered is to make sure you’ve taken the proper steps.
No matter which state you’re living in, there is a deadline by which you must notify your employer and another deadline by which you must officially file your workers’ compensation claim. Typically, you will need to notify your employer within 30 days from the date of your injury. This is not true for all states, so always do your research as soon as you experience an injury. If you fail to notify your employer on time, you could lose out on the ability to seek benefits that you should be entitled to.
The deadline to file your actual claim is usually between 1 and 3 years. Again, it changes and should always be researched right away. An experienced lawyer can help you with this as well.
Another important step to take is to ensure that you see the right medical professional. Certain states require you to obtain approval from your employer or the insurance company before you see a doctor. Others allow you to see whoever you wish but then if you want to change doctors, you need approval. Always look into this before you seek medical attention to ensure that you will be covered under workers’ comp.
Contact Morgan & Morgan for Help
Anytime you are injured at work or while performing a task that seems work-related, you should speak with an attorney right away. A skilled professional can analyze and determine if you should be covered; you don’t want to miss out on benefits that you’re entitled to because you assumed you weren’t covered. Morgan & Morgan can help if you’re wondering, “How do I know if I’m covered under workers comp?” We have been handling workers’ compensation claims for decades all over the country. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.