How to Determine If You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
In virtually every workplace, there is some risk of employees suffering an injury or illness. If you’re injured or become sick on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation to help cover the cost of medical care, physical therapy, and missed work. Here are four questions to ask to help determine if you qualify for workers’ compensation.
Is My Employer Covered?
The laws that dictate whether employers must have workers’ compensation coverage vary from state to state. Here in Texas, Labor Code § 406.002 makes workers’ compensation coverage optional for almost all private employers, so you need to find out if your employer has coverage if you’ve suffered an injury at work. Federal employers have a different system of coverage, so you’ll need to refer to their guidelines rather than a state or private system if you’re a federal employee.
Am I a Qualifying Employee?
Regarding workers’ compensation eligibility, not every worker is technically an “employee.” Independent contractors and freelance workers, for example, don’t typically qualify as regular employees. If your employer disputes your role as an employee when it comes time to file for workers’ compensation, you may have to settle this dispute in court.
Is My Injury or Illness Work-Related?
The term “work-related” generally refers to any action you take that benefits your employer. Some situations are obviously work-related, such as a hurt shoulder from moving heavy equipment or illness due to exposure to dangerous materials in worksites. Others are less obvious, such as being injured during an after-hours company event or on your lunch break.
How Do I Meet Reporting and Filing Deadlines?
It doesn’t matter if you meet all the other requirements for workers’ compensation if you don’t report the incident and file a claim quickly enough. Each state has its own laws regarding reporting and filing deadlines. In Texas, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the incident. Contacting a lawyer with knowledge of the relevant deadlines and requirements as soon as possible is the best way to make sure that you meet Texas’ reporting and filing requirements.