Are Volunteers Ever Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

vfdWorkers’ compensation allows employees injured on the job to have their medical expenses and any lost wages from being unable to go back to work due to the injury compensated, as well as any death benefits for survivors.

While workers’ compensation is normally limited to employees only, there are some instances when an employer has to provide volunteers with benefits coverage. For example, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation law, volunteer firefighters are covered. The coverage is not purchased by the employer (fire company), but is provided by the law itself. Benefits include covering medical expenses and wage loss if volunteers are injured while performing firefighter duties, including any illnesses related to the “job.”

How Do I Obtain Benefits?

Typically, anyone seeking coverage after an injury or illness must first notify whomever is in charge that the injury occurred and how/why it is related to any duties performed in the process of the job. You have 120 days from the injury, or when you should have known of the injury, to report it to your supervisor, but you should avoid delay if possible.

It is important to note that the municipality in which you volunteer typically provides you with a list of medical providers you may see for your injury, and it is up to you to choose a doctor from that list. Within 21 days of missing work due to your injury, you must be notified by the municipality whether your claim has been accepted or denied via a Notice of Compensation Payable, Notice of Denial, or Temporary Notice of Compensation Payable (the last of which can be rescinded within 90 days). If your claim is denied, you can file a petition and be heard by a Worker’s Compensation judge, but it is highly recommended that you work with an experienced attorney through the process in order to better ensure a successful initial application.

Who Else is Covered?

Other volunteers engaging in rescue-based activities, as set up by the municipality, are also sometimes covered under state workers’ compensation. These include volunteer rescue and/or ambulance squads, hazardous materials response teams, specific volunteers within the police department, and volunteer forest firefighters within the State Parks and Forests Program.

Examples of What is Covered

Any broken bones, bodily injuries, burns, etc. that are suffered as a result of the volunteer activities and that interfere with one’s ability to work would qualify for workers’ compensation. In addition, if you have any permanent injuries and/or disfigurement, you may also be entitled to additional specific benefits.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Lawyers

If you are injured on the job, hiring a skilled accident or workers comp lawyer in Pennsylvania as early as possible will maximize your ability to protect your rights and bring a successful claim. The team at Solnick & Associates is to here to help—contact us today for a free initial consultation.