Following a workplace injury, an employer may be responsible to compensate the injured worker for lost wages and harm they have suffered as part of the workers’ compensation process. In general, workers’ compensation benefits help with lost wages and medical expenses while a worker recovers following a workplace injury. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

To begin with, to receive workers’ compensation benefits, the injured worker must have suffered their injury while at work. To be work-related, the injury must typically have been suffered while the injured worker was performing their duties at work or engaged in activities that benefited the employer. An injury may also be considered work related if it occurred at a company party, picnic or other social event that was sponsored by the employer.

Some examples can help injured workers better understand when their injury may be covered by workers’ compensation and when it might not be. Injuries sustained during a work break, for example, are not typically considered work related. An injury suffered at a work-sponsored event involving alcohol may still allow the injured worker to seek workers’ compensation benefits. If a pre-existing medical condition is aggravated or worsens at work, it may be considered work-related for purposes of workers’ compensation. Coverage may also apply to mental health conditions.

The categories of workers that are covered by workers’ compensation varies by state so it is important to be familiar with the laws in the state where the worker decides to determine if they have workers’ compensation protections and coverage. Knowing how workers’ compensation benefits work is important for injured workers which is why employers are required to provide workers’ compensation protections for the workforce.