Injuries Covered By Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation covers injuries and diseases arising out of and in the course of employment. Although the most commonly included condition is an injury from a one-time workplace accident, other compensable problems can arise in a number of different situations.
The employee’s covered injury does not necessarily need to be from a typical accident, but could be the result of a series of small events that in combination results in a serious condition. Examples of such gradual, cumulative injuries include repetitive-stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, and back and disk injuries. In addition, coverage is typically given for diseases caused by exposure to toxic or dangerous chemicals in the workplace. Finally, although the formulas for coverage for mental harm vary greatly from state to state, many states compensate for psychological or emotional damage arising out of the workplace.
If you are an employer with questions about the types of compensable injuries likely to arise in your business, reach out to The Law Firm of Peters & Wasilefski. Based in Harrisburg, we serve throughout south central Pennsylvania and have the experience and knowledge to address your queries and concerns.
Injuries received during transit to and from work are generally not covered by workers’ compensation. The exception is job-related travel or off-site work activity. For example, if an employee is a traveling salesperson, any injury sustained while in transit between customers will normally be covered by workers’ compensation.
The vast majority of work injuries and diseases are covered by workers’ compensation. Injuries not covered by workers’ compensation in many states are:
- Injuries from criminal activity
- Injuries from violation of posted or known company policies
- Injuries from alcohol intoxication or drug use
- Off-work injuries
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Pre-existing conditions, unless exacerbated by current work
Some exceptions to employer immunity or situations that would usually allow injured employees to sue their employers outside of the workers’ compensation system are:
- Injuries caused by employer malice or recklessness
- Injuries caused by employer violations of state or federal law such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- Intentional injuries
- Injuries caused by employers when acting in dual capacities, such as breaches of legal duties in their roles as property owners, landlords, medical providers or work-equipment manufacturers
- Injuries to employee property
- Bad-faith administration of workers’ compensation claims
- Employer retaliation against employees for pursuing workers’ compensation claims such as by firing or demotion
- Nonphysical injuries such as defamation or discrimination
Sometimes employees with work-related injuries are able to sue responsible third-parties other than their employers:
- Negligent equipment or premises inspectors
- Negligent landlords or landowners
- Manufacturers, distributors or sellers of dangerous work equipment
- Medical providers who negligently treat work-related injuries
- Co-workers who intentionally inflict harm
- Insurance companies that administer workers’ compensation claims in bad faith
An employer that has paid workers’ compensation may have a legal interest in a successful third-party lawsuit over the same injury, either by a right to intervene in the suit or a right to a proportion of the proceeds.
We’re Here To Address Your Concerns And Questions
Whether a particular injury is compensable under workers’ compensation can be a complicated legal question. Our attorneys will help you understand the legal implications of your situation.