It's not unusual for employees' personal property to get damaged when they're involved in workplace accidents. Thus, it's natural to wonder if workers' compensation will pay to replace or repair the damaged items. Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn't always clear. Here's what you need to know about how worker's comp handles reimbursing people for this type of loss.
Only Certain Types of Property May Qualify
Workers' comp differs from other types of insurance in that it pays for the injured party's expenses regardless of who's at fault for the accident. The drawback, though, is workers' comp limits the type of damages claimants can collect. In general, the insurance company will only pay for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and funeral costs. Personal property is typically not included.
In cases where the insurance does cover property damage, it limits the type of property that qualifies for reimbursement. For instance, claimants may only be reimbursed for property that's medically necessary. If your pacemaker was damaged in the accident, the insurance provider will pay to replace it because you need it to live.
If you're trying to get workers' comp to pay for damage to your personal property, it is a good idea to work with an attorney on the issue. The lawyer can help you craft your claim in a way that increases your chances of successfully obtaining reimbursement.
The Company's General Insurance May Cover
For those who live in states where workers' comp doesn't cover damage to personal belongings or who can't get the insurance provider to pay out for this type of loss, an alternative option would be to file a claim against the employer's commercial insurance policy which typically covers property damage.
Normally, when your accident is covered by workers' comp, you would be barred from filing a claim with the company's regular insurance or suing the company for damages. However, an exception may be made for claims involving personal property, since this is something that's often not covered—or even addressed—by workers' compensation.
Be aware, though, that the adjuster for your company's general policy may deny the claim for reimbursement, citing the exclusivity rule barring employees covered by workers' comp from attempting to collect compensation from employers for workplace accidents. Thus, you'll need to make a case as to why compensation for your personal property is a separate issue from the money you're receiving from workers' comp for the accident.
This is another situation where it would be immensely helpful to have an attorney's help. The lawyer can look at the company's policy to ensure your claim would be covered by the provider and then negotiate with the adjuster to get the compensation you're owed.
Making sure you're fully compensated for injuries and damages associated with a workplace accident can be challenging. With the right help, though, it is possible to get all the monies you're due. Contact a local attorney for assistance with your case.
For more information on worker's compensation, contact a worker's compensation lawyer near you.