What kinds of injuries or illnesses might be covered by workers’ compensation?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Injuries or illnesses are typically covered only when they “arise out of and in the course of employment.” There needs to be a connection between the accident that caused the injury/illness and the scope of your employment duties. Examples of compensable injuries are those caused by lifting heavy equipment, slipping on a wet or oily surface, defective machinery, or fires or explosions.

Many state workers’ compensation programs preclude coverage for injuries which occur while you are not acting within the scope of your employment – such as while you are playing football with friends on your day off. But closer examination of the situation should be made – if you were injured while playing football at a company sponsored picnic, there may be coverage.

Illnesses which “arise out of and in the course of employment” can be covered under the workers’ compensation system where the working conditions present unusual or extraordinary risks of contracting an illness – such as coal miners being able to recover for black lung disease or computer workers for carpal tunnel syndrome. Careful inquiry into the hazards arising out of the scope of your employment can determine whether the illness is one that is common to everyday life as opposed to risks of illness that are present in your particular employment situation.

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