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Are You Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?

Are You Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?

Although all employers and employees alike can benefit from having workers’ compensation insurance, not everyone in New Mexico will have it. However, most people should. The state’s legislation requires that employers with 3 or more employees, including themselves – and therefore the majority of employers in New Mexico – purchase workers’ compensation insurance that the employees do not pay for. Additionally, any company that works in construction must provide workers’ compensation benefits, even if it is just a two-person operation.

There are a few occupations that are usually exempt from workers’ comp, though:

  • Domestic workers (babysitters, housekeepers, nannies, etc.)
  • Farmhands and agricultural workers
  • Workers acquired through temp agencies
  • Seasonal employees (less than part time hours)

If you work for an employer with more than 3 people within the company and you do not work in one of the exempt fields, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation. (Remember: Exemptions are not 100% definite and you could still be eligible depending on your unique circumstances.) Just because you are eligible for workers’ compensation does not mean you are guaranteed to receive benefits. So other requirements must be met to complete you eligibility?

Your Status and Your Duty

Are you an official employee at your company? Are you certain? Receiving a paycheck and appearing on weekly schedules does not mean you are an employee. If your employer is following current trends in the world of business, they may have used legal loopholes to categorize you as an “independent contractor” and not as an employee. This is not just a practice for small mom-and-pop shops, either; last year, Amazon, the ever-popular online retailer giant, appeared in headlines after its California workers sued, claiming they had been mislabeled as independent contractors when they were performing the duties of an employee (The Wall Street Journal published a useful article about the story here.) Independent contractors are not eligible to receive workers’ compensation.

You also need to ask whether or not your injury was work-related. An accident that occurs while you are on the clock might not actually be considered “work-related.” For example, if you take a smoke break and get hit by car in the parking lot, you might not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits because you were not doing something required to complete your job duties. Your injury needs to be related to an activity that benefits your employer or company in some way, such as a back strain after unloading freight onto shelves. This truly is a gray area of the law, though, and a skilled workers’ comp lawyer could feasible argue that you deserve compensation for any injury you sustained while at work, even in aforementioned the smoke break scenario.

If you live in New Mexico and need to file a workers’ compensation claim, allow Albuquerque Workers’ Compensation Attorney Michael J. Doyle to help you. Call 505.219.2176 today to request a free initial consultation, during which you can determine your eligibility and take action from there.

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