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What is considered a workers’ compensation injury?  


Good Question...It's Complicated

To access workers' compensation benefits, the employee and the employer must follow certain steps to ensure the injury is compensable and this is why having a lawyer from the beginning can be so important. 

If you are an employee who is injured on the job, or develops an occupational illness while employed, in most cases it is considered a workers’ compensation injury.  In oder to find out if it is an injury that is eligible for a claim with your business insurance policy, it can be helpful, and sometimes necessary, to file with qualified legal council. 

If your claim is approved, you can receive wage replacement, medical coverage, and other benefits.


However, to access these benefits, both the employee and employer must follow certain specific and sometimes complicated steps to ensure the injury application is approved and benefits are awarded.

What is considered a workplace injury?

Most injuries that occur on the job are covered by workers’ comp insurance, including accidents and illnesses caused by exposure to work activities, materials, and equipment.

As soon as an employee suffers an occupational injury that is covered by workers’ comp insurance, time is of the essence. The employee has a limited number of days to report the incident and collect benefits.

Typically, injured workers should report an occupational injury to the employer as soon as it occurs.


If there is a delay in filing the claim, the insurance provider could potentially deny the employee compensation benefits. The delay may also give your carrier the impression that the claim isn’t legitimate.

Workers’ comp generally doesn’t cover everything, and here are some things it doesn't generally cover:

  • Injuries incurred while committing a crime, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while violating company policies

  • Self-inflicted injuries

  • Stress or other psychiatric disorders

  • Injuries that happen when commuting

  • Injuries caused by fighting or horseplay

For work injuries that occur overtime, the decision can be less clear.


How to file a workers’ comp claim

To initiate the claims process, an employee must:

  • Notify the employer about the work injury or illness (including the date, time, type of injury, and how the injury occurred).

  • File a formal workers’ comp claim.

From there, the insurance company will choose a doctor to conduct an independent medical examination. The doctor will report the results to the insurance company, which uses the report to create its compensation offer.

The workers’ comp claims process and statute of limitations differ slightly from state to state. Learn more about the workers’ comp laws in states where you do business

When to file a workers’ comp claim

Your employee is eligible for workers’ comp benefits if all of the following statements are true:

  • The injured worker is an employee of your small business (not an independent contractor).

  • The employer has workers’ comp insurance.

  • The employee was hurt as a result of job-related duties.


Workers’ comp statute of limitations

Different states have varying statutes of limitations for filing workers' comp claims.  


For instance, in California, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ comp claim is one year from the date of the injury.


Depending on where your employees are located, they have a specific deadline to file a claim. The deadline could vary based on the type of injury, as well.

Employees have deadlines for notifying the employer about the injury. In most cases, the employee must notify the employer within 30 to 45 days of the injury.

Employees can also notify employers with a formal letter or email detailing the work injury, or informally, such as mentioning wrist pain caused by typing all day. To err on the side of caution, always ask an injured employee to submit a written notification of the incident detailing the nature of the ailment and when, how, and where it occurred.

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