What is Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation benefits help those workers injured on the job pay for medical care, and it also covers personal expenses if they are disabled. The system is not overly generous. In fact, you will find that 100% of the costs associated with a workplace injury are rarely covered.
However, workers’ compensation benefits have one advantage: they are no-fault, meaning it doesn’t matter who is to blame. If you qualify for benefits, you get them.
But are you truly eligible for benefits? To find out, apply the analysis below to your own situation.
Were You Injured “In the Course of Employment”?
To qualify for benefits, you need to be injured “in the course of employment.” The most obvious way to qualify is if you were injured in an accident at work or if you developed an occupational illness slowly over time.
Some people travel for work, which means they might not be injured at their job site. This does not mean they can’t qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The test under RCW 51.08.013 is whether the employee was acting in furtherance of an employer’s business or at the employer’s direction at the time of the injury. For example, if your employer required that you travel to a workshop and you are injured on the road, then you could qualify for workers’ comp.
However, commuting to work generally is not covered unless you were using a company vehicle. Commuting cases are fairly complicated, so seek out legal guidance to analyze your case.
Do You Fall Under an Exception?
There are some situations where you do not qualify for benefits. For example, you won’t qualify if:
- You intentionally injured yourself.
- You are injured while attempting to commit a felony.
- You are so intoxicated that you effectively have abandoned your employment.
In these situations, you are not owed any workers’ compensation benefits even if you were injured at work.
Do You Have a Valid Injury?
Not every disability will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Washington. As an initial matter, your injury does not have to be caused by an accident—though many are. You can also qualify if you have an occupational illness or an infection that you picked up as a result of your work.
For mental injuries to qualify, they must be the result of a sudden, traumatic event. For example, if you saw a school shooting and suffered from PTSD, you could qualify if your psychological injury manifested soon after the traumatic event. By contrast, if you only became depressed by the daily grind of your job, then you do not have a compensable injury.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Tacoma Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ comp benefits provide a lifeline for many injured workers who have no other way to support themselves when they are suffering from an injury. Unfortunately, the process of applying for benefits is not always clear. If you need the help of a seasoned Washington workers’ compensation lawyer, then please reach out to us today.