The types of injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation include any that occur within the scope of their job duties. While workplace accidents most commonly occur in labor-intensive and heavy industry professions, no worker is entirely immune to the risk of job-related injury or illness.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that private industry employers reported approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2018. That year, 5,250 people died from workplace injuries or illnesses.
These injuries and illnesses can take a tremendous physical toll on victims, with effects ranging from intense pain to permanent disfigurement or disability. They can also have a psychological and emotional impact, resulting in stress, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
If that weren’t enough, many workplace injuries and illnesses require time off for medical appointments as well as recovery and recuperation. The total cost of these incidents is immense, encompassing both personal and financial losses. Some individuals can never return to work. Of course, the toll is most significant on those who lose their lives or watched a loved one die.
Fortunately for employees, most injuries and illnesses that occur at the workplace or their job exacerbates qualify for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage can help pay for emergency medical treatment, ongoing health care costs, and lost income.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation
You must prove the causal relationship between your medical condition and your job when pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations consider an illness or injury work-related if an exposure or occurrence at work led to the condition or aggravated a pre-existing condition.
Establishing this connection is typically straightforward for incidents that occur at the job site. However, making this connection becomes much more complicated and challenging if a person discovers an illness years later (such as mesothelioma) or suffers an injury while working but outside the office (e.g., on a business trip).
The ease of establishing this connection also depends on the injury or illness and your profession. For example, it might be relatively simple to prove a coal miner developed a lung disease because of their occupation, or if a teacher fell off a ladder while hanging student artwork in a classroom. However, it could become more problematic when the illness is one that many people develop in life, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or lung cancer. Likewise, it can become more challenging if your occupation is not generally a dangerous one.
Laws vary from state to state. Some states specifically rule out seeking workers’ compensation for some illnesses. Many recognize certain professions, such as emergency response jobs, as inherently dangerous and provide these workers with special terms.
Typical Workers’ Compensation Injuries
Workers’ compensation covers countless types of injuries. According to OSHA and the National Safety Council (NSC), some of the most common include:
- Muscle sprains, strains, and tears
- Bone fractures
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
- Repetitive strain or stress (RSIs), such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and back pain
- Slips, trips, and falls
OSHA also names the “fatal four” incidents that most often cause workplace fatalities:
- Getting crushed or stuck between objects
- Being struck by an object or equipment
Types of Injuries Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Not all types of injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. These injuries include events when you or the person responsible for your injury acted outside the scope of employment. In these circumstances, a personal injury lawyer might advise you to pursue a civil suit against the person responsible for your injuries.
Such circumstances include:
- When an intoxicated employee or one under the influence of drugs caused the incident.
- A self-inflicted injury (for example, if the injured person started a fight with a coworker).
- The employee engaged in unlawful activities.
- The employee was not on company time when they suffered their injury.
- The employee disregarded safety rules or company policy.
- One party intentionally inflicted harm upon another.
Also, workers’ compensation does not usually cover contractors or subcontractors, meaning if you are not an employee, an attorney might advise you to pursue compensation from the responsible party directly.
In some cases, third parties—such as a building owner, property owner, or equipment manufacturer—may also have liability. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you identify the responsible party and determine the best route to pursue.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Pursuing just compensation for your workplace-related injuries or disease could prove more challenging than you might think. You do not have to navigate this difficult period alone. You might consider contacting the office of Ben Crump Law, PLLC for assistance.
Our legal team works on contingency, meaning you will not pay attorney’s fees unless you receive compensation for your losses. Call us at (800) 603-4224 to speak with a staff member about scheduling a free, no-obligation meeting to review your case.