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On the Job Injury Laws

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What Qualifies as an “On the Job Injury"?

Most on the job injuries are covered under state worker’s compensation statutes, so they can vary by state.  Generally speaking, an “on the job injury” must arise out of the employment, and must happen in the course of employment. 

This means that the injury must have happened at the work site, and during a period of employment (though there may be exceptions to this).  Also, there should be some causal relationship between the injury and the job description. 

On the job injuries can be classified into three types:

  • Specific event:  This is a one-time event or trauma, such as when a construction worker falls off a ladder
  • Cumulative trauma:  This is an injury caused by repetitious movement or work, such as when a worker develops carpal tunnel syndrome due to typing or loses their hearing as a result of working with very loud machines
  • “Occupational Disease”:  These are diseases caused by being exposed to substances as work, such as lung disease caused by asbestos exposure

What is Not Considered an On the Job Injury?

While state compensation statutes do cover a wide range of injuries, many types of on the job injuries do not qualify for compensation.  These include:

  • Self-inflicted injuries
  • Injuries suffered during the commission of a crime
  • Any injury that would violate company policies
  • Injuries resulting from drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Certain types of off-site injuries

Also, mental illness is usually not considered to be an “on the job injury”, even if it developed during the course of employment.  However, many jurisdictions allow an employee to be compensated for mental illness if it is connected to a physical injury caused by work. 

What if My Employer Denies That I Was Injured?

It may be the case that you have a valid claim for an on the job injury, but your employer does not agree with you.  In such cases, it may be possible to resolve the disagreement through the company’s human resources department.  If that doesn’t remedy the situation, you may wish to take other action such as:

  • Filing a complaint with a government entity:  If you have been denied injury compensation, you may need to file a complaint with a government agency like the EEOC, especially the denial of compensation was based on discrimination
  • Filing a civil lawsuit:  Another option is to sue your employer through a civil lawsuit, in order to recover for your injuries and losses.  Many states require the injured party to file a complaint with a government entity before they can file a private lawsuit

If you have suffered an on the job injury, you may wish to create a record of the incident.  That way you have references that can be used when you file your claim.  If you have suffered a repetitive strain-type injury, be sure to include the circumstances leading up to your injury. 

Workers who have suffered an on the job injury are also protected from wrongful termination based on the injury. 

Should I Contact a Lawyer for Assistance with an On the Job Injury?

Workplace injury laws can vary by state, so you may need to consult with a lawyer for advice.  A qualified attorney in your area can provide you with representation if you need to file a claim in court.  Most workplace injuries are covered under compensation laws, but you might need the expertise of a lawyer if you have any specific questions.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 10-14-2015 04:10 PM PDT

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