Complexities of Multi-Jurisdictional Workers' Comp Claims

HR Resource
August 3, 2012 — 2,365 views  
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Many companies and jobs require workers to travel out of state to complete tasks. While to these employees it may seem simple enough to drive a few hours across state lines and perform a job, many do not realize the risk they are taking if they do not have out-of-state workers' compensation coverage. Furthermore, employers often do not realize the complications of workers becoming injured on the job when they are working outside of their home state. For this reason, it's essential for workers' compensation managers to understand the complexities of multi-jurisdictional claims and how to ensure employees are properly covered by insurance.

Each state has its own system of workers' compensation laws so a workers' compensation manager will first be responsible for determining jurisdiction. According to Bryce Downey & Lenkov LLC, there is a variety of factors that must be considered in terms of state claims such as the place where injury occurs, place of employment contract, place where employee resides and the place whose statuses have been adopted by the parties by contract.

Due to the fact that there is no one federal law for workers' compensation, benefits must be determined on a state by state basis. In addition to wage replacement, other benefits that may be affected include whether vocational rehabilitation is covered, if the employer can choose the physician, how long the benefits will be paid and survivor benefits in case of fatality.

Jurisdiction typically falls under the state in which the injury occurs. Each state is considered sovereign under the constitutional system and for this reason, each state controls the law within its boundaries. For example, if a Virginia employee suffers an injury while working in Massachusetts, Massachusetts will likely still apply its workers' compensation laws to that injury. However, under some circumstances, the home state will apply its jurisdiction. Some states will apply jurisdiction if the employee primarily works in the home state, but traveled to another state for only a short project or conference. Some states will also apply jurisdiction if the contract was made in the state where the injury occurred, even though the employee works in several states or has since been working primarily in another state.

Understanding the complexities of multi-jurisdictional workers' compensation claims can be confusing for both the employer and the worker, so the best thing a manager can do is seek the advice of a legal counsel when creating contracts. This can help determine if employees will be covered by insurance if injuries occur out of state and assist the employer in making sure state jurisdiction would be in the employer's favor in case of worker injury.

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