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Archive for February, 2018

How Does the Farm Labor Exemption Affect Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?

Workers Compensation - TractorWorkers’ compensation is a no-fault form of insurance that covers injuries that workers incur on the job. It is available for the protection of both the employer and the employee. For the employee, it provides compensation for medical expenses for injuries or illnesses that occur on the job, as well as compensation for lost wages and disability if applicable. For the employer, workers’ compensation offers protection against getting sued for injuries that take place on your farm: the availability of insurance precludes the workers’ right to file a personal injury claim. Though there is a Farm Labor Exemption for certain farm sites in Pennsylvania, most farms in the Commonwealth will not qualify for these exemptions, as they generally only apply to extremely small operations who hire workers for very short periods of time.

Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act has a subsection that is specifically devoted to agricultural worksites. This section indicates that workers’ compensation is to be provided for employees if during a calendar year they pay wages to a single employee totaling $1,200 or more, or who employs a single employee for 30 or more days. Even if the farm has just one employee that meets that description, the workers’ compensation insurance coverage needs to be provided for all employees. The employers’ spouse or child under the age of 18 is not considered an employee under the law unless there is a specific written employment contract in place.

Many farm owners in Pennsylvania make the mistake of believing that they do not need to have workers’ compensation insurance because of the agricultural employee exemption, but the only farms for which this applies are generally those who only hire seasonal labor for extremely short periods of time. If an employer is required under the state’s rules does not purchase workers’ compensation insurance, they can be penalized for their failure to do so. They are also likely to be held liable for any injury that occurs on the job as a result of negligence.

If you are an agricultural worker who has been injured on the job, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, but you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process and advise you of your rights. Contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law today to learn more.

What Injuries are NOT Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Work Injury - Stepping On A NailTo most people, workers’ compensation is little more than a line item in their paycheck. They don’t know whether it’s something that they pay for or whether it’s provided by their employer, and they’re not entirely sure what it’s there for. That all changes once you’re injured on the job and suddenly realize that it’s there for you – to make sure that your medical expenses are covered, and you’ll be able to pay your bills, even if your injury keeps you from going back to work. Though workers’ compensation is what’s known as a ‘no-fault’ insurance policy that’s paid without having to prove who’s at fault, there are a couple of notable exceptions.  Here are the circumstances under which injuries sustained at work are not covered.

  • Being intoxicated or having used illegal drugs. If you fall at work and you hurt yourself, it doesn’t matter whether it happened because the floor was slippery or because you weren’t watching where you were going: you’re covered either way. But if you fell because you were high, or it’s discovered that you’d been drinking, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Injuries that are self-inflicted or a result of having started a fight. It’s hard to imagine, but there have been unethical employees who have purposely hurt themselves at work to try to collect workers’ comp. Not only are those injuries not covered, but neither are injuries sustained in an on-the-job fight if you’re the one that instigated it.
  • Injuries sustained while committing a serious crime or while violating company policy. Rules are rules, and whether they are federal laws, state or local rules, or the rules that are posted in your company’s employee manual, if you’re breaking them and you hurt yourself while you’re doing it, then you lose many of your privileges, including workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Injuries sustained while not on the job. Being an employee does not mean that you’re always covered by workers’ compensation. If you’re hurt on your day off and you’re not working, then you’re not covered by workers’ compensation – even if you’re visiting the job site. However, if you’re off-site and working, or running a work-related errand then you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits

If you’ve been hurt while on the job and you’re not sure whether workers’ compensation benefits are available to you or not, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law to set up a consultation to discuss your situation.