A system whereby an employer must pay, or provide insurance to pay, the lost wages and medical expenses of an employee who is injured on the job.
Workers’ compensation law is governed by statutes in every state. Specific laws vary with each jurisdiction, but key features are consistent. An employee is automatically entitled to receive certain benefits when she suffers an occupational disease or accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment. Such benefits may include cash or wage-loss benefits, medical and career rehabilitation benefits, and in the case of accidental death of an employee, benefits to dependents. The Negligence and fault of either the employer or the employee usually are immaterial. Independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and in some states domestic workers and agricultural workers are excluded or only partially covered.
The formula for permanent partial disability benefits varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but usually considers the employee’s average weekly wage combined with the degree of permanent disability. A worker who is permanently disabled from working at all may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits.