Have you suffered an injury at work? Or perhaps you are suffering from an ongoing illness that is work related? You are entitled in some circumstances to workers’ compensation for that injury. In essence, workers’ compensation is a state law insurance fund, which pays a certain amount to employees to cover lost work or medical bills due to an injury that arose at work, and for significant injuries a small lump sum payment. In exchange for these benefits, you are restricted in your right to sue your employer for the injury. However, to be entitled to workers’ compensation the injury or illness must be work-related.
What is a work-related injury?
Some injuries are clearly work-related and others are not to so easy to determine. For example, an injury sustained on the way to and from work is not covered by workers’ compensation and it is technically not considered a work-related injury. Rather it is an injury outside of work obligation, even though you are getting to and from that obligation. However, if /the travel is for work – for example if you are travelling to a meeting – then any injury sustained during that travel is work-related. It is only for travel to and from the fixed location of work that the injury is not covered. The work related injury need not be physical. It can also include diseases or illnesses. A sound example of this is when a worker suffers from an illness or disease as a result of exposure to asbestos. Or perhaps a dust disease due to exposure to dusty conditions without the appropriate workplace policies and safety procedures in place. It is helpful to understand that you are covered by workers’ compensation for an injury sustained as a result of your own misconduct so long as it was within the course of your employment or for an exacerbation or aggravation of any pre-existing injury. As to any misconduct, such can be for example not wearing gloves when are meant to be worn on a job. Such would be a breach of the the rules, even if this is a common practice by you and other employees. If you injure your hand on machinery as a result of this misconduct, your injury will still be covered by workers’ compensation, and you will get the statutory benefits. As for a pre-existing condition, your injury or illness is covered by workers compensation if, as a result of your employment, that injury reoccurs or is aggravated or exacerbated.
What about mental conditions?
Most mental conditions are covered by workers’ compensation. The difficulty may lie in proving that the mental condition is work-related. The condition may arise out of a certain event, such as trauma after seeing someone else suffer a physical injury, or it may be a condition suffered over-time, such as stress, depression or fatigue. For either of these scenarios, the condition may be covered by workers’ compensation as it is work-related. The condition, however, must be shown to have been caused somehow by workplace events or as a result of you carrying out your duties at work. If workplace bullying has caused an emotional distress and mental condition, then any psychological help or support services sought will be covered by workers’ compensation. Ultimately, whether it is a physical injury, a disease or an emotional/psychological condition, if you were acting within the scope of your employment at the time the injury or condition was sustained or aggravated, then almost any injury will be considered a work-related injury and covered by workers’ compensation. Whatever the injury, if any difficulty arises in proving that the injury is work-related then it is best to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer who can put you in touch with the appropriate medical staff to assist with that determination. At the same time, you can be advised of what you may be entitled to in workers’ compensation: that is, what bills are covered, how much of your income is covered, and for how long. Finally, a good personal injury lawyer will be able to get you fair compensation for any permanent serious injury.