Hurt workers are almost always covered when they suffer an injury or illness because of their jobs. However, some workers who believe they have coverage end up being denied. Not all workers fall into the correct category for benefits like medical expenses and disability wages. If you have been hurt at work but are not sure about your benefits, read below to find out more.
Know Your Employer
It's not always obvious when it comes to a job. One of the easiest ways to tell which category your job falls under is to note how your taxes are handled. Employees working directly for a company have income tax and other deductions removed from their paychecks. They usually receive a Form W-2 at the beginning of the year in preparation for tax filing.
On the other hand, contract employees are sent a Form 1099 rather than a W-2 before tax time. Though there are exceptions, most contract, temporary, and freelance employees who receive some type of Form 1099 for income earned are not eligible for workers' compensation insurance benefits from their employers. However, private workers' compensation insurance companies can cover those workers. The worker is responsible for paying 100% of the premium costs. If you are a direct employee for a company, you are entitled to workers' comp benefits from your first minute on the job at no cost to you. Your employer pays the premiums for the coverage.
Some temporary workers and others hired through employment agencies are not paid by an employer but by the agency. In many cases, hurt workers can file claims through the agency and receive workers' compensation benefits.
When Uncle Sam is Your Employer
The federal government is a huge employer but many people who work in that capacity work for a contractor rather than directly for the government. In that case, the contractor, even when performing work for a government agency, is responsible for providing employees with workers' comp coverage and not the federal government. Those working directly for the federal government do have workers' comp coverage, but the reporting and benefits are slightly different for federal employees.
No Pay No Coverage, in Most Cases
In general, volunteer workers have no workers' comp coverage. However, in some states, certain high-level volunteer jobs like firefighters do have coverage if they are hurt while performing their duties.
If you have been denied coverage because of one of the grey areas listed above, speak to a workers' comp lawyer and find out what your rights to coverage are. Contact a workers' compensation law firm in your area if you have questions.