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Eligibility, Coverage, and Protection: Indiana Workers’ Compensation

Eligibility, Coverage, and Protection: Indiana Workers’ Compensation

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program paid by your employer to provide you benefits if you are injured or become ill at work. With limited exceptions, workers’ compensation benefits provide medical benefits (sometimes without limits or caps, as in Indiana), compensation for lost wages, and compensation for permanent injuries, disability, or even death. Workers’ compensation will also provide benefits to your dependents if you die as the result of a job-related injury. Indiana Worker’s Compensation Claims.

Why was the workers’ compensation program created?

Medical bills and lost time from a work-related injury can be an enormous burden on workers and their families. That is why the American workers’ compensation system was created at the turn of the last century. Workers’ compensation ensures that the financial responsibility of work-related injury is borne by companies as a cost of doing business, not by taxpayers.
The basic principle behind workers’ compensation is often called the “Grand Bargain” between employers and workers. Injured workers may not sue employers in civil court for workplace injuries, meaning workers’ compensation is the “exclusive remedy” for such injuries. But, in exchange, injured workers receive workers’ compensation benefits in a no-fault system –even if the injury was the employee’s fault.

Are there any injuries not covered by workers’ compensation?

An injury that occurs while commuting to and from your regular place of employment is not generally covered under workers’ compensation. Also, not all injuries that occur during work-related business travel will be covered under workers’ compensation. For example, an injury sustained while sightseeing or doing other non-work-related activities during a work-related trip will generally not be covered.
Also, if you were exposed to toxic substances such as asbestos, or your injury was the result of your employer’s willful or intentional conduct, you might be permitted to sue (because punitive damages may be awarded in a civil suit but not in a workers’ compensation claim). Injuries sustained as a result of horseplay, or “goofing off,” are generally excluded as well. However, if you are the victim of horseplay and not a participant, you are eligible for workers’ compensation.

Is Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim a Fireable Offense?

Many claimants have a common question when considering filing for worker’s compensation. Will filing for workers’ compensation will lead to their termination of employment?
Indiana employers cannot fire an employee for solely filing a worker’s compensation claim. However, depending on the attendance or leave policies of the employer, they may be able to terminate employment if the employee has exceeded those limits.
For example, suppose the employer has a published attendance policy that specifies the total amount of days employees are allowed to take off in a year for any reason. If the employee exceeds the set number of days permitted due to their injury, the employer may have the legal right to terminate the employee.

Can I Be Terminated While Receiving Indiana Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

The state of Indiana is considered an “at-will” employment state. The “at-will” employment policy means that employers can hire and fire employees as they see fit, however the employer cannot discriminate against their employees because of their age, sex, race, religion, national origin, or disability. A disability includes disabilities that are a result of a workplace accident.

If I am Fired Will I Lose My Workers’ Comp Benefits?

If you are an employee receiving Indiana Workers’ Comp benefits and are fired, you do not lose them. When an injury occurs at work, you’re still eligible to continue receiving all workers’ comp benefits as long as a physician has not medically cleared you to return to work.

How Can I Protect Myself While on Workers’ Comp?

When employees file Workers’ Compensation claims, it may financially affect the business by disrupting productivity. In these circumstances, the employer may seek to replace the injured employee to minimize disruptions.
Employees can further protect themselves when receiving workers’ compensation and unable to work by applying for FMLA and if applicable, consulting their union:
• Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)— If you are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, you may qualify for FMLA. FMLA is an unpaid, job-protected leave for atleast 12 weeks that applies to specified family and medical reasons.
• Union Members— You may have additional protections against termination as a union member when injured on the job. If injured on the job, always consult your union for other protections that may apply to your situation.

What are the basic eligibility requirements of workers’ compensation?

Employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, independent contractors (like freelancers, consultants, or members of the “gig” economy) typically are not. The distinction between an employee and an independent is highly fact-sensitive. Simply calling a worker an “independent contractor” or an “employee” is not dispositive of the worker’s status. For more information on the distinction between independent contractors and employees, visit our blog post Independent Contractors vs Employees: What’s the Difference?

If you have questions involving any aspect of workers’ compensation or any potentially compensable claim, please get in touch with McNeelyLaw LLP’s experienced attorneys by visiting mcneelylaw.com or calling our office at 317-825-5110.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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