Washington D.C. Workers’ Compensation Laws You Should Know

People expect to show up to work and have a safe environment and an employer who cares about their wellbeing. While this is true in many cases, unfortunately, sometimes this isn’t the case. Whether it’s due to an employer who doesn’t care about their workers or another unlucky situation, people often get injured on the job and find themselves in need of treatment, often being unable to work for extended periods of time. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible, as you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Contact our Washington D.C. workers’ compensation lawyers today for a free consultation. 


The District of Columbia has laws that determine your eligibility to apply for workers’ compensation. Some of the most important things you need to know include the following:

You Must Have Regular Employment

To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you must be a regular worker, or you won’t be eligible. For example, volunteers, independent contractors, and “casual workers” likely won’t be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. 

Your Employer Must Provide Workers’ Compensation

In order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, this type of insurance policy must be offered by your employer (or if you’re an independent contractor or own your own business, you must have purchased this on your own). Almost all employers in Washington D.C. that have more than 1 worker are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. 

If you work for the government, a railroad, a maritime entity, or a real estate broker that typically pays through commission, you may not be entitled to workers’ compensation insurance. 

Your Ailment Or Injury Has To Be Work-Related

The most significant requirement for workers’ compensation benefits is that the injuries you sustained occurred while you were performing job related duties. This means if you are injured on your commute to or from work, or during an unpaid break, you may not be eligible to receive any benefits. 

What To Do After An Injury

It’s important to know what to do following an injury or illness to ensure that you receive the benefits you’re entitled to.

  • Seek Medical Attention. The first thing you should do is seek medical attention if it’s an emergency. In Washington D.C., you are entitled to choose your own doctor when you first seek treatment. If you wish to change doctors at a later date, you must first get approval from the insurance company or The Office of Workers’ Compensation.
  • Notify Your Employer. After you seek medical attention, it’s crucial to notify your employer within the specified timeframe. In Washington D.C., you must report your injury or illness within 30 days of the incident. You must also report your injury to the Office of Workers’ Compensation within 30 days. Additionally, you must file your claim within 1 year of the injury. 
  • Make Sure Your Injury is Reported To OSHA. Once your employer is notified of your injury, they are required to report your injury to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If a fatality occurred, your employer must report it within 8 hours. If an inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye occurred, they must report this within 24 hours. In all other circumstances, your employer must report your injury within 10 days. If you’re well enough to do so, it’s a good idea to check in with your employer and ensure they’ve reported it to OSHA.

No-Fault System

Workers’ compensation insurance operates under a no-fault system. You do not have the burden of establishing your employer’s or someone else’s negligence to receive compensation. In exchange for the guarantee of compensation, you forfeit the right to sue your employer for a personal injury settlement once you collect workers’ comp benefits. 

There are exceptions to the no-fault system. For example, if you were injured because you were intoxicated while at work or due to horseplaying, you likely won’t be covered. 

If you have any questions or need assistance, contact us today for a free consultation.