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What Workers' Compensation Covers

If you are hurt in the course of your job, you may qualify for workers' compensation. It's helpful to know what this employer-provided insurance plan covers so that you'll know when to file a claim and get the benefits you deserve. Read on to find out what is covered with workers' compensation insurance.

What Injuries are Covered

1. Physical injuries that occur while at your place of work and during your regular working hours. The injury does not necessarily have to be a sudden accident – it can be a slow-acting injury like toxic exposure or repetitive strain injuries. 2. Mental or emotional distress that occurs as a direct result of your job. This can include issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by witnessing a horrific incident at work or as a result of your work. Even those that work in fields that frequently encounter trauma, such as law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, and medical personnel can suffer from emotional stress. In some states, this category of injury is only covered if it accompanies a physical injury.

3. Physical injuries that occur off-site from the job location but that are considered connected to the job. For example, the annual softball game at the park might be a covered location because employees are expected to attend, volunteer, and participate. Other instances of off-site coverage include:

  • Traveling while using a work vehicle, even if the vehicle can also be used for personal reasons.
  • Traveling away from the work site for work-related reasons, such as client meetings, conventions, and training. For example, if you injured your back while assembling a booth for a business convention, that would be covered.

4. Preexisting conditions made worse by work. If you have had a previous injury or illness, you may be covered if you can show how the condition was aggravated by work. For example, if you are suffering from high blood pressure, began a new job and then had a heart attack six months into the job, you might be able to be covered for this condition. You would need to show that your job was so stressful that it caused the heart attack and that you were doing everything possible to prevent the condition from worsening.

Not Covered

As a side note, the following types of workplace injuries are not usually covered:

  • Injuries that occur when under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol.
  • Injuries that occur in the commission of a crime while on the job.
  • Injuries that were self-inflicted and intentional.

Speak to a workers' compensation attorney if you are encountering problems with your claim.