Questions regarding eligibility for workers’ comp coverage can arise in unusual circumstances. One example of this is when a temporary employee from a staffing agency suffers an on-the-job injury. It’s important to understand how this may impact the worker’s ability to receive benefits.
How Workers’ Compensation Cases are Handled for Temporary Workers
In most cases, temporary employees are covered by workers’ comp. The same rules that apply to a regular employee are the same for a temp. The injury or illness must have arisen out of and in the course of employment, whether it was an accident or acquired over a period of time.
According to workers’ comp laws in Iowa, most employees working under contract of hire are entitled to benefits. A temporary worker is generally under contract of the employer. Furthermore, the law stipulates certain classifications of employees who would be exempt from workers’ comp coverage, which does not include temporary employees.
There is one category that could potentially apply, though. “Casual” employees are not entitled to workers’ comp. These are workers who earn less than $1,500 during the 12 consecutive months prior to being injured. Of course, this is not a common scenario but should questions arise regarding a temp being considered casual, it would be a good idea to seek advice from an attorney.
Steps to Take When a Temporary Employee is Injured at Work
The case would be handled like any other, starting with a notice of injury. This is required by law and must be submitted to the employer within 90 days of the injury occurring (or when it should have been known).
Granted, there could be challenges that arise in this type of case. The employer may feel it was falsely filed or doesn’t feel obligated to provide benefits for someone who is a temporary worker. It will be up to the worker to prove not only the injury but that it occurred during the scope of employment.
The next step is for the employer to electronically file a first report of injury with the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The employer must do so within four days of learning about the injury. It is in the temporary employee’s best interest to make sure this is done.
Waiting to file the claim can raise red flags under normal circumstances. But it could become a bigger issue when a temporary worker waits, especially after she has completed the job. While there’s a two-year statute of limitations to file, it’s generally best to pursue the claim as soon as possible.
The claim will be reviewed and a decision made to either accept or deny it. If it is approved, medical benefits will pay for any expenses related to the injury. If the injury is disabling, the employee could receive disability benefits depending on the permanency of the injury and whether the disability is partial or total.
If the insurer denies the claim, the worker can file an appeal. Considering the unique challenges temporary employees might face, they may benefit by consulting with an attorney when disputes arise or if injuries are serious. Walker, Billingsley & Bair helps workers – permanent or temporary – in Des Moines and surrounding areas pursue benefits or appeal a denial. Call (888) 435-9886 or contact us online.