Which Workers’ Compensation Law Applies?

Managing Member Alan G. Brackett and Associate Ava M. Wolf are co-authors of an “Attorney Analysis” workers’ compensation column for Reuters Legal News and Westlaw. Their most recent article, “Which workers’ compensation law applies?” was published on June 8, 2023. Following is an excerpt from the article, which you can continue reading on Reuters Legal News and Westlaw. You can also download a PDF of the entire article at the link below.

Which workers’ compensation law applies?

“Workers’ compensation” is broadly considered the umbrella of claims employees can pursue when they’re injured at work. Workers’ compensation systems were established to provide medical care and income protection to employees who are injured or become ill from their job.

Until the early 1900s, injured workers had little if any rights in connection with a work injury. Only after the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, which resulted in the death of 146 people in New York City, did states begin adopting workers’ compensation schemes to protect workers.

All 50 states have now enacted laws relating to workers’ compensation, with each state either creating a worker’s compensation division or board under their state’s department of labor. If accepted by an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, injured employees typically receive indemnity benefits at 2/3 of their weekly earnings, along with medical benefits, which can include medication and transportation costs to and from appointments. When a person mentions they have a workers’ compensation claim, they’re likely talking about a claim that falls under their state’s laws.

However, not all workers’ compensation claims fall under a state’s laws. Indeed, not all job-related injuries occur while in an employee’s state of residence or within the United States. So, the question arises, what law applies? That depends on the employee, who they work for, where they work, and the scope of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

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