An employee is injured on the job. Will you survive?

Workers’ comp insurance is something every business owner must consider, whether you have one employee or hundreds; it will protect your business in the event that an employee is injured on the job.

It might be tempting to forgo the expense if you have a very small business or work in an industry that doesn’t carry as much risk, but this choice could jeopardize everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Even one injury could leave you liable for expensive medical bills and lost wages.

According to Concentra, “Some employers believe that injuries only happen in high-risk industries like manufacturing and construction, but…industries such as transportation, finance/insurance, and professional services also have high-cost claims.”

Quick Note: Know your state’s requirements

Depending on where you live, carrying workers’ comp insurance may not be a choice. Many states require you to have it. State laws will also determine the amount an employee can get, which injuries must be covered, how injuries are evaluated, and how medical care is provided. So, check to ensure you comply with all laws and regulations.

The prevalence of workplace injuries

Here are 2015 stats from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • The overall incidence rate of non-fatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work was 104.0 cases per 10,000 full-time workers
  • There were 1,153,490 days-away-from-work cases in private industry, state government, and local government
  • In the private sector, the incidence rate was 93.9 cases per 10,000 full-time workers
  • There were 104 cases of non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses that required 10,000 full-time workers to take days off work.
  • There were 209,000 cases of slip, trips, and falls
  • There were 421,610 days away from work as a result of strains, sprains, and tears

What does workers’ comp cover?

Workers’ compensation provides: 

  • Replacement income when employees are off work
  • Payments for medical expenses, including doctors’ visits, surgeries, and prescription drugs
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits – including on-the-job training, education, or job placement assistance (depending on the state where the employee is injured).

Workers comp insurance also protects you (the business owner) against lawsuits filed by injured employees. When you have workers’ comp, it doesn’t matter who is at fault. You are not required to take the blame, nor are your employees.

Each state will also dictate elements of workers’ comp coverage, including: 

Who is covered – This includes guidelines as to what constitutes an “employee.”

When liability kicks in – Workers’ comp covers injuries no matter who is at fault, whether because of unsafe conditions or carelessness on the part of the employee. It will also deny claims that occur as a result of employee’s intoxication or a willful act.

What will be covered – In general, workers’ comp covers workplace related accidental injuries and illnesses It can cover sudden injuries such as falling off a scaffolding, injuries that occur as a result of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel or back problems, and illnesses resulting from exposure to chemicals, air pollution, or radiation. It may also cover illnesses and diseases that are a gradual result of working conditions – for example, heart conditions, lung disease, and stress-related digestive problems.

How claims are filed – There are numerous rules applied if an employee makes an injury claim, and again these vary by state. They cover how the employee should get medical attention, how to notify the employer, which doctors they can see (their personal physician or one specified by the employer), and how paperwork should be filed.

What employees can expect in benefits – Workers’ comp can help keep employees from having to pay out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment. It will also award them compensation for lost wages, either temporarily or permanently. If a death occurs as a result of the incident, the family of the employee may also have the right to some type of compensation.

What workers’ comp does not cover.

Not all problems that occur in the workplace are covered. Coverage may be denied in situations involving:

  • Injuries caused by intoxication or drugs
  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Injuries from a fight started by the employee
  • Injuries resulting from horseplay or a violation of company policy
  • Felony-related injuries
  • Injuries suffered off the job
  • Injuries claimed after an employee is terminated or laid off
  • Injuries to an independent contractor

Can you still be sued if the employee claims workers’ comp benefits?

Workers’ comp insurance will not protect you from all lawsuits related to injuries. Certain, limited exceptions do allow an employee to sue, but they vary from state to state. For instance, if an employee is injured as a result of the employer’s intentional or reckless actions, the employee may choose to bypass the workers’ compensation system and sue for a full range of monetary damages, including punitive damages and pain and suffering. The same is usually true if the employer failed to secure the required workers’ compensation insurance.

Employees can also sue third parties. For instance, if they are injured in a car accident caused by another driver while working, or from faulty equipment manufactured by another company.

Workers’ comp insurance is an important element you may need in order to protect your business in the event an employee is injured on the job. If you have any questions or you want to discuss obtaining workers’ comp insurance, contact Avante Insurance today.