The general rule is that if you are injured as part of your job, you are entitled to compensation. However, there are exceptions to this rule as there are to so many others. Some of the exceptions relate to federal law, while others vary according to state requirements. Here are some of the common exceptions to workers’ compensation eligibility that may apply to your situation.
While some states may afford limited protection to independent contractors, you typically have to be an employee to receive workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to employers misclassifying employees as independent contractors in the interest of avoiding paying benefits. If you believe that your employer has denied your workers’ compensation claim because of a misclassification, you should contact the U.S. Department of Labor or the comparable governing body for your state.
However, even some properly classified employees are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through state-run programs. In some cases, this is because a different system is responsible for compensating certain injured workers. Examples include longshoremen, railroad workers, and federal employees.
Then there are some categories of workers who are not eligible for any compensation for a work-related injury. Though state laws may differ, these generally include the following:
- Farm/agricultural workers
- Domestic workers (e.g. child caregivers, housekeepers)
- Seasonal workers
- Temporary employees (i.e., those placed by an agency)
The eligibility of undocumented workers varies by state.
For most employers, carrying workers’ compensation insurance is a requirement. Again, however, there are exceptions to the rule, and if your employer is not required to carry insurance, you may not be able to receive benefits.
Small companies with few employees may be exempt from the workers’ compensation insurance requirements. However, the minimum number of employees a business can have before it is required to provide workers’ compensation benefits varies by state. Most states require workers’ compensation coverage for anyone who hires at least one employee, while in others, the minimum may be as high as five employees.
Sometimes it is not the number of employees that a company has but the amount of wages they pay out. For example, in Kansas employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage if their gross payroll exceeds $20,000 regardless of how many or how few employees there are.
In addition to these requirements, you must also file your claim in a timely manner, and your injury must be work-related. It can be difficult to keep all the requirements straight. Fortunately, a workers compensation attorney may be able to help in that regard.