Workers’ comp lawyers from Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. understand the challenges that a workplace accident and injury can have on a person’s life. It may result in serious pain and the inability to work for weeks or months.
In most situations, and for most full-time employees, their employer is required to provide workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace accident. However, if you are a volunteer and you are injured while volunteering, you may wonder if the same benefits apply to your situation.
Many volunteers work just as hard (or harder) as employees, and some even work in hazardous conditions. But, by definition, volunteers are not paid. Does this mean they don’t receive workers’ compensation benefits in if they are injured while volunteering?
The answer isn’t black and white, and it really depends on the circumstances if the volunteer receives benefits.
Volunteers and Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In most situations, volunteers are excluded from workers’ compensation benefits. While this is true, there are some exceptions you should be aware of.
In Florida, workers’ compensation benefits are required to be provided to anyone who volunteers for an agency of the government or a government entity. This includes people who volunteer for city-run aftercare programs, school crossing guards, and firefighters. Anyone volunteering for free for a government agency can receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured during their responsibilities.
Also, anyone who works for free with the understanding they will be paid later isn’t considered a volunteer. The timing between when the work is done and when payment is received is irrelevant.
Workers’ Compensation and Non-Profit Organizations in Florida
Some people believe that non-profit organizations don’t have to provide workers’ compensation benefits. This isn’t the case. Several larger non-profit organizations have thousands of employees. Examples include public hospitals, Goodwill, the United Way, and others. All of these are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers can provide services for a non-profit organization, receive reimbursement or per diem for expenses, and still be considered a volunteer if there’s no other salary expected or paid.
If you volunteer in Florida but are required to be given workers’ compensation benefits, you will likely only receive medical care payments. The portion of workers’ compensation coverage that covers lost wages, called indemnity, would not apply to your situation.
It is still unclear if an injured worker could receive lost wages if they can’t return to their traditional paid role because of injuries that occurred while they were volunteering.
Never Assume You Qualify for Benefits
It’s important to remember that some government agencies will contract out with a partner or private company. If you volunteer with a private company and experience an on-the-job injury, you don’t automatically qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Whether you receive these benefits depends on the relationship the company you volunteer for has with the government. In some cases, you may be considered a volunteer for the government, which means you do qualify for workers’ compensation benefits after a workplace accident and injury.
It’s difficult to know for sure if you qualify for benefits. As a result, you need to work with a Florida workers’ comp attorney to know your rights. Our legal team will be happy to discuss your situation and determine if we can help you in any way.
Benefits and Options for Volunteers
You can receive workers’ comp benefits as a volunteer in some situations. If you qualify for benefits, you can receive payment for any medical costs you incurred due to your accident and injury. This includes ambulance transport, emergency room care, tests, medication, surgeries, rehabilitation, and more. As mentioned above, this is the only benefit you will receive as a volunteer if you qualify for workers’ compensation coverage.
Seeking Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Florida
If you are injured on the job, even as a volunteer, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a workers’ compensation attorney. Sometimes, you may be able to receive benefits; however, this is something that isn’t always clear.
With the help of an attorney, you can find out if you qualify for benefits and how much you can receive. Remember, even if you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Florida as a volunteer, you will only receive medical payment benefits. You don’t receive lost wage benefits since, as a volunteer, you aren’t paid.
At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., our attorneys have provided legal services for injured workers for decades. We will provide you with the quality legal representation you need to ensure you get the benefits you deserve. Even if you volunteer, you may qualify for these benefits, so it is a good idea to get in touch with us to find out if this is possible.