Worker’s compensation is a right enjoyed by the vast majority of American workers. While it’s technically a form of insurance, worker’s comp better thought of as an agreement between business owners and their employees. If a worker is injured on the job, they’re furnished with partial wage replacement, medical benefits, and protection from losing their job, provided they waive their right to sue their employer for any negligence leading to their injury. Worker’s compensation laws vary state-to-state, but what if you don’t technically work in a state at all? Residents of the District of Columbia can still file for Worker’s comp. We here at Malloy Law Offices are eager to walk them through the process with this DC worker’s comp guide.
A major exception to worker’s compensation coverage is in the case of so-called “independent contractors.” Given that these workers are not technically considered employees, they are generally kept from claiming benefits, including worker’s comp (though independent contractors can still sue for negligence). This is especially relevant when considering the large federal contracting apparatus that calls the DC area home. If you work as a government contractor, it’s recommended that you speak with your employer about whether you would be eligible for worker’s comp in the event of an injury.
When filing a worker’s comp claim, your first step should be to report the injury to your employer. This report should be made at your soonest possible opportunity. One of the most common mistakes made by injured workers is concealing their injury or downplaying its severity. While the urge not to report can often be well-intentioned; it can complicate your claim. That may actually be a best case scenario. A failure to report your injury at your earliest convenience may allow your employer and their insurance company to disregard your claim entirely. Keep in mind that filing worker’s comp is contingent on your injury occurring at your workplace. This becomes harder and harder to prove the longer you wait after your injury.
The next step in the DC worker’s comp process is reporting your injury to the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES). As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, DOES has moved the filing process online. This means hand-delivering or snail-mailing documents to the Office of Worker’s Compensation is no longer necessary. But it’s still imperative that the office receives DCWC Form 7 within 30 days of your injury or your recognition thereof. You can obtain this form from either your employer, your insurance company, or DOES themselves. Once complete, you should photocopy the form. File one copy with your employer, keep another for you records, and send the original to the Office of Worker’s Compensation. A full list of DOES forms, resources, and other worker’s comp notes can be found here.
If you are a public-sector employee seeking to file worker’s comp, you will instead deal with the Public Sector Worker’s Compensation Program (PSWCP). In any case, the first step is the same, report the incident. This can either be done via an online claims management system or by phone. After reporting an incident you’ll receive an email with further instructions.
The worker’s compensation process is simple enough on paper, but experience has taught us that it can quickly become complicated. The experienced legal team at Malloy Law are DC’s worker’s compensation specialists. Our team stands ready to consult with you free of charge and determine the best course of action. Don’t let your employer or their insurance company keep you from the compensation you are owed. Contact Malloy Law today to get started on your case.