Workers’ Compensation: Beyond Worksite Injuries

If you’re a business owner with employees, you’re no stranger to worker’s compensation insurance policies. Workers compensation exists as a way for you to provide your employees with benefits in the event of a work-related illness or injury. What you may not be aware of, however, is that workers’ compensation also can cover injuries that did not occur on-the-job and other special circumstances. While the laws regarding what is covered by workers’ compensation vary by state, the overall accepted conditions are similar in most states. When dealing with these special circumstances, it’s recommended that you speak to an attorney who has experience with workers’ compensation claims.
Preexisting Conditions

Believe it or not, some preexisting conditions are accepted for special benefits under worker’s compensation. If there is an accident or injury in the workplace that causes the employee’s preexisting condition to become severely worsened, aggravated, or accelerated, it may be covered under worker’s compensation. However, if it’s only slightly worse than what it was before they had the work-related injury, it will most likely not be covered. Preexisting conditions that become a breakage of body tissue like in the case of a herniated disk after a work-related accident will also be covered by most workers’ compensation policies.
Chemical Exposure and Disease

Many states workers’ compensation laws also include medical treatment and benefits for workers who come in contact with toxic chemicals or contract a disease in the workplace. This includes exposure to dust and toxic fumes which can lead to illnesses, mold that causes sick building syndrome, hearing loss from long periods of extremely loud noises, and injury from vibration exposure. Many adverse health conditions come from various chemicals used in the workplace and are often covered by workers’ compensation.
Mental Stress

While the laws and regulations for receiving workers’ compensation benefits for mental stress vary widely by state, many do offer benefits. Mental stress is also considered an adverse health condition by many states and will therefore offer workers’ compensation benefits for employees with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, depression, or mental anguish caused from their work environment. Each mental stress claim will be based on the individual case, so it’s not always covered under worker’s compensation.
Repetitive Physical Strain

Repetitive physical strain is caused by employees with job duties that require the same physical movements over and over again for long periods of time. This includes data entry workers that type for the majority of their day, as well as file clerks and factory workers. If an employee has this type of job and receives an injury from the repetitive motion, such as carpel tunnel or arthritis that becomes worsened, it may be covered by workers’ compensation.
These types of physical conditions are known as occupational conditions and often covered by worker’s comp, though it varies by state.   Workers’ compensation insurance is available in most states as a way to offer benefits for employees if they receive a work-related injury or illness. It’s also important for employees to understand they can often receive benefits, depending on state laws,  for other circumstances, including preexisting conditions and illnesses from their duties at work.