Workers’ Compensation was created as a form of insurance to protect both workers and employers in the event that an employee is injured at the workplace or develops a disease because of conditions specific to the place of employment. It provides wage replacement and medical benefits during the period of treatment and recovery for the worker, while ensuring that the employee exchanges his or her right to sue the employer for negligence. Workers’ compensation is a state-mandated program, so while all states offer workers’ compensation, they differ in certain aspects of requirements.
Laws Governing Workers’ Compensation in West Virginia
In West Virginia, the requirements for employers are slightly different. Though it is generally mandatory for all employers to carry adequate insurance coverage in the state, there are a few exceptions made. The following categories are exempt from the requirement:
- Agricultural employers with fewer than five employees
- Employers of domestic servants
- Places of worship
- Professional sport employers
- Employers with fewer than three employees working at temporary jobs
- Temporary state employees
- Volunteer emergency service workers
- Certain longshore and harbor workers
What Workers’ Comp Covers in West Virginia
The idea behind workers’ compensation is that it should cover employees if they are injured or become ill because of conditions at the workplace. Injuries are covered no matter who is to blame for an accident and employees may be eligible for compensation whether they slip and fall in the office or at a hazardous construction site. Injuries may also occur because of repetitive work-related behaviors. Employees may, for example, development carpal tunnel syndrome, or herniate a disk in their back because of job-related tasks they perform repeatedly as part of their work. Such injuries are also covered by workers’ comp.
Occupational hazards considered eligible for workers’ comp include the presence of chemical agents, biological hazard (e.g. germs, insects, animals), extremes of temperature or humidity, radiation, and, generally, the stress or strain due to labor. Note, though, that in West Virginia, a mental condition that one suffers due to work must be accompanied by a physical injury. Nonetheless, workers who are eligible for workers’ compensation qualify for partial income replacement and medical care, for short-or-long-term disability.
Injuries Covered by Workers’ Comp
Injuries that may make a worker eligible for workers’ compensation include, but are certainly not limited to, fractures or sprains, serious cuts, internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, or other injuries involving blunt trauma. Some of the most common workplace injuries are the result of:
- Slipping or tripping
- Falling from a height
- Repetitive stress
- Being hit by a falling object
- Becoming entangled in machinery
- Being involved in a vehicular accident (when driving for business)
Amazingly, being a victim of a violent attack in the workplace is the tenth most common cause of worker injury. Much more seldom, injuries in the workplace may include such traumatic events as blinding, loss of a limb, loss of hearing, or severe burn injuries.
Work-Related Illnesses Covered by Workers’ Comp
Many employees become seriously ill because of the condition in their workplace. Common illnesses tied to employment include:
- Lung disease, such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer or mesothelioma
- Cancer caused by exposure to toxic agents
- Eye disease (among food handlers, agricultural workers, and those in medical settings)
- Lead poisoning
- Psychiatric and behavioral disorders, particularly PTSD
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Viral, bacterial, fungal or other disease
Any individual applying for workers’ compensation has to prove that the disease in question was caused by the environment of the workplace. This is precisely where having a highly skilled and knowledgeable disability attorney is essential.
How to Proceed If You Are Injured or Become Ill as a Result of a Work-Related Cause
If you become injured or ill on the job, let your employer know about it immediately, seek any necessary medical or rehabilitative care, and engage the services of a competent and caring West Virginia workers compensation attorney like Jonathan Bowman. With expert legal assistance, you should be able to receive up to two-thirds of your weekly wages (though there is a cap on salary) plus any and all medical costs for as long as you need them. Request a consultation to get the compensation you deserve in West Virginia.