Workers compensation law can be quite confusing — not least because it varies somewhat state to state — but a basic understanding of it can be vital to your health and wellness as an employee. Unfortunately, all the misinformation regarding workers comp that’s floating around can make it even more difficult to get the information you need. Let’s fact-check some common statements about workers compensation programs so you can be a better advocate for yourself in the future if you get hurt on the job:
- Workers Comp Is Just for Industrial Accidents
People tend to think of filing workers compensation claims for manufacturing accidents and the like, but workers comp can actually cover a much wider range of injuries and illnesses in many types of workplaces. For example, an office worker with carpal tunnel syndrome might be eligible for workers comp, as would someone who had a respiratory illness due to mold in a storeroom or warehouse.
- Your Employer Is Required to Offer Workers Comp
This gets a little trickier, since workers compensation law varies by state in terms of what it requires of employers. But indeed, most mid-sized and large employers are required to carry workers compensation insurance. Moreover, they are not allowed to pass the cost of that insurance on to their employees.
- Workers Comp Costs Are “Out of Control” in the U.S.
Critics of workers comp often say that the costs of the system are too burdensome for employers, but the reality is that workers compensation settlements are actually quite minimal and aren’t a major cost for employers.
- Workers Comp Is a No-Fault Claims System
For a workers compensation claim, you’re not required to prove that someone else was at fault or that negligence occurred. There are a few exceptions (if you were doing something contrary to company policy that caused you to get hurt, for example), but in most cases fault isn’t even factored in.
- You Can’t Sue Your Employer If You File a Claim
When you take workers comp, you generally do so in lieu of filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. But there are some cases in which you would be eligible for both, and it’s quite common to have a case both for a workers comp claim and a personal injury claim against an equipment manufacturer. You’ll need to discuss your individual situation with workers compensation lawyers to know what the best course of action is for you.
What other truths or myths should be included on this list? Share your thoughts in the comments.