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Does workers' compensation cover only injuries or does it also cover long-term problems and illnesses?

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Your injury need not be caused by an accident -- such as a fall from a ladder -- to be covered by workers' compensation. Many workers receive compensation for injuries that are caused by overuse or misuse over a long period of time -- for example,

repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or back problems. You may also be compensated for some illnesses and diseases that are the gradual result of work conditions -- for example, heart conditions, lung disease, and stress-related digestive problems.

Are You Covered by Workers' Compensation?

Most workers are eligible for workers' compensation coverage, but every state excludes some workers. Exclusions often include:

  • business owners
  • independent contractors
  • casual workers
  • domestic employees in private homes
  • farm workers
  • maritime workers
  • railroad employees, and
  • unpaid volunteers.

Check the workers' compensation law of your state to see whether these exclusions affect you.

Federal government employees are also excluded from state workers' compensation coverage, but they receive workers' compensation benefits under a separate federal law.

In addition, some states do not require workers' compensation coverage of employers having fewer than a designated number of employees -- three to five, depending on the state. So, if you work for one of these employers, you may be excluded from the state program.


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