When it comes to life and work, few things are as important as your physical health. A serious injury or illness can affect all areas of your life, including your ability to do your job and earn a living. Workman's compensation -- better known as workers' compensation -- is a type of work benefit that can give you cash benefits if you are injured or become ill on the job.
Workers' Compensation Coverage
Workers' compensation is handled at the state level for most workers other than federal employees. Specific laws vary from state to state, but in general, state governments require employers to buy workers' compensation insurance that provides benefits to workers if they suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. Whether or not an employer is required to provide workers' comp benefits can depend on the number of employees it has, the type of business it is and the tasks its workers perform. To be eligible for benefits, you must be an employee, and any injury or illness you suffer has to be work related.
Types of Benefits
Workers' compensation can provide payouts for a variety of different expenses. Benefits typically include wage replacement payments that provide you with income if you can't work or can only work in a limited capacity, cash to pay for hospital and medical expenses necessary to treat your injury or illness and money to cover the cost of physical therapy and other rehabilitative services. Workers' comp programs also typically include death benefits that provide cash to dependent family members, such as a spouse or child, if you die on the job.
Payouts for physical injuries aren't limited to sudden accidents and obvious external injuries. Many jobs involve repetitive activities that aren't particularly stressful when done once or twice but can lead to injuries when performed repetitively throughout the day. For example, an office worker might develop chronic pain in the back or wrist from sitting at a computer and using a mouse all day. These types of repetitive stress injuries can be legitimate grounds for workers’ compensation claims.
One of the main purposes of workers' compensation is to limit the number of lawsuits employees bring against their employers. When you make a claim for workers' comp and accept benefits, you forfeit the right to bring your employer to court in an attempt to win a legal judgment. Workers' comp lets you get cash for job-related health problems quickly without going through a potentially long and costly legal battle not knowing what the outcome will be.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Workers' Compensation
- Cornell University Law School: Workers' Compensation -- An Overview
- Nolo: What Is Workers' Compensation?
- Nolo: Types of Workers' Compensation Benefits
- Nolo: Are You Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?
- Nolo: Injuries and Illnesses Covered by Workers' Compensation
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images