What Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?


If you are hurt on the job, workers' compensation is typically thought of as the first line of defense against unexpected medical and financial consequences. Knowing what types of injuries may be covered — and which may not — is essential to obtaining your full level of compensation if something should go wrong while performing job-related duties.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines workers’ compensation as a “partial medical care and income protection to employees who are injured or become ill from their job.” Workers’ compensation claims include the following information:

  • The type of injury/illness
  • How the injury/illness occurred
  • The type and cost of medical care received
  • Cost or partial wage replacement
  • Number of days off work
  • Injured worker characteristics (occupation, age, gender, time at the position, etc.)

The North Carolina Industrial Commission outlines that the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires all businesses that employ three or more employees to obtain workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as self-insured employers to pay worker’s compensation benefits to their employees. This includes businesses operating as corporations, sole proprietorships, limited liability companies, and partnerships.

Work-Related Injury Causes

Work injuries can occur in any type of workplace. Recognizing common causes can help you know when to seek compensation. Common work-related injuries may be a result of the following:

  • Slip and falls: Workers may slip and fall due to wet or oily surfaces, wrinkled carpets or mats, cables, and more. Resulting injuries may include broken bones, cuts, head injuries, etc.
  • Struck or caught in machinery: Machinery that is not properly guarded or secured can cause injury to workers. Common injuries may include crushed hands, arms, severed fingers, blindness, and other harm.
  • Vehicle accidents: Work environments involving vehicles run the risk of employee injury. Employees may be struck by objects falling off the vehicles, run over, or fall out of the vehicle. Injuries from these accidents can include broken bones, sprains, and even death.
  • Fire and explosions: Open flames or combustible materials can severely injure workers with burns, cuts, and disfigurement. Flying debris from the explosion can also injure workers.
  • Toxic-chemical exposure: Employees can be exposed to toxic chemicals that may cause nausea, memory loss, and shortness of breath. In more severe cases burns, blindness, and cancer can occur.
  • Overexertion: Repetitive lifting, manually lifting heavy objects, and lack of breaks can cause injury to workers. Employees may experience back pain, muscle pain, and other long-term effects that inhibit work and daily activities.

Employer Responsibilities for Health & Safety

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), employers are responsible for implementing and maintaining a variety of conditions to ensure worker safety. A summary of the responsibilities includes:

  • Provide a workplace free of serious recognized hazards and comply with standards, rules, and regulations of the OSH Act
  • Examine workplace conditions
  • Provide employees with safe tools and equipment and properly maintain equipment
  • Use color codes, posters, labels, and signs to warn employees of potential hazards
  • Establish and maintain operating procedures and communicate them so employees follow safety and health requirements
  • Develop and implement a written hazard communication program and train employees if hazardous chemicals are in the workplace
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses

If an employer has failed to provide you with proper training, protective gear, and warnings of potential danger in your work environment, they made be held liable for your workplace injuries. You may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Especially if your injuries are catastrophic, seeking help from an attorney can help you recover medical costs, wage loss due to time off, loss of quality of life, and more.

What Is Not Considered a Work-Related Injury?

As covered, workers’ compensation may recompensate a multitude of injuries occurring in a workplace. However, the US Department of Labor defines specific situations where workplace injury and/or illness are not considered work-related and employers are not required to honor claims. A summary of these situations includes:

  • The employee was present as a member of the general public rather than an employee at the time of injury or illness
  • The symptoms of injury or illness arise at work but were a result of a non-work-related event
  • The injury or illness is the result of personal grooming, self-medication for a non-work-related condition, or intentionally self-inflicted
  • The injury or illness is caused by a motor vehicle accident that occurs on a company parking lot or company access road while the employee is commuting to or from work

In general, non-work-related injuries occur when they are outside of working hours and company property and/or an employee intentionally or accidentally inflicts non-work-related harm upon themselves. However, injury and illness can have gray areas, and consulting with an attorney can help determine if you have a case.

How a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help

Being injured at work can be a confusing and stressful time. A workers' compensation attorney can help you navigate the claim process and fight for the benefits you deserve. You may be entitled to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, discomfort, and more.

Jetton & Meredith, PLLC is dedicated to fighting for your rights and working to deliver you a desirable outcome. We focus on quality, personalized service for you and your loved ones. If you have questions about workers’ compensation or catastrophic injury don’t hesitate to reach out.

Call today at (704) 931-5535 to speak with an attorney.