District of Columbia Workers' Compensation laws & safety compliance analysis

District of Columbia Workers' Compensation: What you need to know

Who Is Covered?

Virtually all private-sector employers in the District of Columbia must provide workers' compensation insurance coverage for their employees (DC Code Sec. 32-1504et seq.). Private employers are covered with regard to all employees except those explicitly excluded by the workers’ compensation laws. Employees of the federal government are excluded from coverage under the laws of the District, but they have other coverage under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. Employees of a state or foreign government are excluded. Other public employees, with the exception of uniformed city police officers and firefighters, are covered.

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The following categories of employment are specifically exempted from coverage:

  • Farm labor
  • The master or crew of any vessel
  • Casual employees
  • Railroad workers
  • Domestic servants, unless the employer employs them for 240 hours or more during a quarter
What Is Covered?

"No-fault" system. Workers' compensation is a no-fault system. Employees receive compensation without having to prove that the employer was at fault for the injury. They need only show that the injury arose "out of and in the course of employment." This no-fault aspect distinguishes workers' compensation from ordinary "tort" law, which provides for the compensation of injured people in most other circumstances. Under tort law, a person receives compensation only if the injury was caused by someone else's carelessness. The operative legal term is "negligence," which is simply the failure to use due care. In most cases, an injured party is compensated only if he or she can prove that the injury was caused by some other party's negligence.

Workers' compensation makes it easier for employees to collect because they don't have to ...


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