We deal with a lot of different workers when handling workers' compensation cases. A number of the workers we work with are construction workers, but many others are nurses, mechanics, office workers, drivers, installers, pro athletes - you name it. And many of our clients ask us whether you automatically get workers comp benefits after you've been hurt at work.
The answer is no.
You probably should, but you may not.
So here's the basic definition covering workers compensation in D.C.
An injured worker must be an employee as defined by the D.C Workers' Compensation Act and prove an employer-- employee relationship existed at the time of injury. There are two basic tests for whether an employer-employee relationship exist. The "right to control" test analyze whether the employer has the right to hire and fire the employee, to tell him or her what to do and where and how to do it (controlling the work),as well as how the employee is paid, for example whether the employee is paid salary, hourly, or by the job, and whether taxes are withheld. The "relative nature of the work" just means that the work performed is part of the overall business of the employer.
And the injury must happen in the course and scope of the employment.
That is, there must be a connection between the injury and the work performed. Whether the injury is on a construction site, sitting at a desk or while installing cabinets in a doctor's office. Generally, an employee is considered to be in the course and scope of his employment if he is "on the clock" during work hours, performing work for his employer or at the place of employment when he gets hurt.
Remember, in the District of Columbia, an aggravation of a prior condition is considered a compensable work injury. For example, a worker with a bad back that has been asymptomatic may pick up a piece of equipment and "aggravate" that underlying condition-- causing symptoms that keep him out of work.
Injuries can occur anytime and anywhere while the employee is at work. A person typing at a desk can develop carpal tunnel and may not be able to do their job properly-- if that is what their job mainly consists of. As long as the injury happens while the employee is "on the clock", they may be eligible for workers' compensation.
In over 20 years of handling work injury cases (at first for insurance companies) I've seen the law and system get more complicated - more rules, more traps, more litigation - even experienced trial lawyers often won't represent legitimately injured workers because they don't know the system. And the insurance company lawyers you'll be up against have defended hundreds or thousands of cases like yours (I should know).
Don't make a mistake with your workers comp case - a mistake that could cost you and your family thousands or tens of thousands (or even more) in benefits and medical treatment.
Order one of our free guides - you can download 5 Mistakes That Will Absolutely Kill Your Workers Compensation Case right now to get you started and then call us at (202) 393 - 3320 to see if we can help at least make sure you are on the right track.