Workers Compensation Basics: What Every Employer Must Know
The workers compensation system is a crucial program that allows workers injured on the job to obtain monetary recompense for their lost income and medical bills. As an employer, it's vital that you understand how this program operates and how it affects you. Here's a look at some of the fundamental considerations regarding workers compensation that every employer needs to know.
The workers compensation program applies to most injuries that are work related. A common misconception, however, is that the injury must occur in the workplace or on the job site. This is not necessarily the case. For example, if you have employees performing services for your company outside of the work premises, they may still be covered under the program if they are injured while carrying out their duties. In some cases, a worker may be covered while he is traveling between two work-related locations. For instance, if the worker does some of his work in a home office, he may be covered if he is injured while traveling between the workplace and his residence.
Despite the fact that most injuries on the job are covered, some key exceptions exist that every employer should be aware of. If the worker's injuries result from his negligence in violation of company rules, then he is typically not covered. Also, If an accident results from an employee's use of alcohol and drugs, you generally have no liability in this instance. Self-inflicted injuries or injuries that occur during the course of a worker committing a crime are usually excluded from coverage as well.
The main reason for the creation of workers compensation program is to compensate injured employees while avoiding clogging up the court system with civil cases. In some circumstances, however, a worker can go outside of the system and sue you in court. This typically happens if an employer is considered to have acted in a way that was especially egregious. For example, if one of your workers was engaged in a dangerous activity and you denied him access to needed safety equipment, he may be able to sue you in civil court. If you lose the case, it will likely cost you much more money than if the worker went through workers compensation.
Workers compensation programs are overseen by the states. Although the laws are generally similar in most states, variations in the rules exist that may affect your responsibilities. Familiarize yourself with the workers compensation laws of your state to avoid being blindsided down the road.
Although a working knowledge of the workers compensation program is essential for every employer, sometimes you may need expert assistance. If you have further question about this program, contact a workers compensation attorney, like those found at http://www.lshlaw.com.