A workers’ compensation policy is an insurance policy which may provide wage replacement and medical benefits in case of a workplace injury, regardless of who was at fault for the injury. In exchange for this policy, employees forfeit the right to sue their employers for negligence.
Contrary to popular belief, workers’ compensation laws don’t apply to all professions. Whether or not you’re covered depends on your state of residence, your occupation, and your position within the company.
Keep in mind that, while this list can be useful, it’s by no means definitive. The best way to find out whether or not you’re covered is to read your employers documentation or to contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
If you aren’t covered, you might want to consider independently purchasing a workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Whether or not you have coverage depends on your state. Some employees, such as seasonal employees, agricultural employees, domestic employees, and independent contractors are not covered in some states. You should research your state’s laws to find out whether or not you fall into one of these excluded categories.
Keep in mind that even if you were covered in a previous role, your coverage might change if you take the same position in a different state. For example, in Massachusetts, domestic service workers must be covered if they work more than 16 hours a week, but this law doesn’t apply in other states.
On the other hand, workers’ compensation is entirely optional in Texas, unless the company contracts with government entities.
If you’re unsure whether or not you’re covered, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your state.
Employees of small companies
The definition of a small company differs between states. For example, in Alabama, employers are only required to offer workers’ compensation insurance if they have five or more employees. In many other states, this number is 1.
Kansas requires employers to offer a workers’ compensation insurance policy to employees with gross payroll over $20,000.
Once again, it varies by state. In some states, independent contractors are exempt from workers’ compensation; in others, they’re required to be covered.
Federal employees have coverage outside their states’ workers’ compensation systems. Instead, they rely on federal workers’ compensation, which also has separate rules regarding railroad workers and maritime workers.
Am I covered?
This is a tricky question. Not only do laws vary by state, but some employers who aren’t legally required to purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy choose to do so voluntarily.
Most members of the workforce are covered, but the only way to know for sure is to find out through your employer or through a workers’ compensation attorney.