Workers’ compensation insurance provides compensation and benefits for injured workers. It’s important to understand what requirements must be met to be eligible for workers’ compensation insurance and what you must prove to receive the benefits you’re entitled to.
In Washington, D.C., you must meet the following criteria to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits:
- Regular employee. To be eligible for workers’ compensation, you must be a regular employee. Independent contractors, gig workers, volunteers, and casual workers are not entitled to workers’ compensation insurance. Employees who work in the public sector also aren’t entitled to these benefits.
- Employer required to provide workers’ comp. Almost all private-sector employers in Washington, D.C. are required to provide their employees with workers’ compensation insurance.
- Injury or illness is work-related. The final primary requirement for workers’ compensation eligibility in Washington, D.C. is that the injury or illness must have occurred while you were performing tasks related to your employment. If you were injured on a lunch break or while commuting to or from work, you likely won’t be covered.
Workers’ Compensation is a No-Fault System
In almost all circumstances, workers’ compensation insurance is a no-fault system. This means that the injured worker does not need to prove that the employer was negligent or that the employer caused the worker’s injury. As long as you are covered under workers’ compensation insurance and you meet the eligibility requirements, you should receive your benefits.
File Additional Claims if Your Injury Was Due to Your Employer’s Willful Conduct
If you were injured at work and believe that the injury was a result of your employer’s willful and intentional misconduct, you may be able to file additional claims. In this circumstance, you will need to prove that your employer was at fault as opposed to simply showing that you sustained the injury or illness while you were at work.
A workers’ compensation lawyer in D.C. can help you in the following ways:
- Gather Evidence. One of the primary ways your attorney can help prove that your employer was at fault is to collect as much evidence as possible. This usually includes obtaining medical records, which will outline what your injuries are and how they occurred. Additionally, your lawyer can take photos of the workplace to show the circumstances that caused your accident. Finally, your lawyer can determine whether video footage exists which may provide evidence that your employer was at fault for your accident. It’s important to get pictures right away and to request video footage immediately so it isn’t erased, so always consider contacting a lawyer as soon as possible
- Speak With Witnesses. Your lawyer can speak with any eyewitnesses who were around at the time of your accident. They can help corroborate your version of events and prove that your employer was at fault. If there were no eyewitnesses at the time of the accident, your lawyer may still be able to interview colleagues of yours to get information about work conditions and to get an idea of how your workplace is typically run.
- Obtain Records of Other Injured Employees. Your employer may also attempt to obtain records of other injured employees at the same workplace to see if there are any similarities and to determine if the employer has a pattern of willful or intentional misconduct that causes employees to get injured.
If you were injured at work, whether your employer was responsible or not, you should always speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you receive the benefits you’re entitled to.