Workmen Compensation

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In a Workmen’s Compensation policy, what is the difference between fatal and non-fatal accidents?

Having a workmen’s compensation policy is mandatorily prescribed by law for all organisations which employ workmen for their business operations. It is the legal responsibility of the organisation to protect their workmen against physical or physiological injuries or death suffered during the course of employment. In case the employee faces death, disablement or injury due to the nature of his/her work, the employer would be liable to pay a compensation for the contingency suffered by the employee. A workmen compensation policy covers this liability faced by the employer and pays the compensation to the unfortunately injured employee or the deceased’s workman’s heir.

A workmen’s compensation policy covers the following instances –

  • Accidental death
  • Permanent total disablement
  • Permanent partial disablement
  • Temporary total disablement
  • Diseases suffered by the employee due to the nature of work
  • Any other type of personal injuries suffered due to work

These injuries, death and disablements should have occurred due to an external, violent and unforeseen accident. Only if any worker faces any physical injury due to accidents at the workplace, does the claim arise under a workmen compensation policy. There are two types of accidents which can happen – fatal and non-fatal.

Fatal Accidents: A fatal accident is one where there is death, or a high risk of loss of life of the employee. In case of a fatal accident, the employee might die or suffer severe disablements.

Non-fatal Accidents:  Non-fatal accidents, on the other hand, are those accidents which don’t have a high probability of death. In such cases, the employee or the workman survives, however they have to suffer disabilities or any type of personal injuries.

Both fatal and non-fatal accidents are covered by a workmen’s compensation policy, provided such accidents result in any of the above-mentioned contingencies. Fatal accidents are taken as those which result in death, or permanent total disablement, permanent partial disablement or fatal injuries. If any of these contingencies occur, the workers compensation policy would pay the claim faced by the company. 

In the case of non-fatal accidents though, the covered contingencies might not occur. The employee or worker might not face any type of disablement or injury from such accidents. If the employee or workman suffers from a type of disablement and the disablement does not last for more than 3 days, the claim would not be paid. As a result, in many workmen’s compensation policies, non-fatal accidents are usually not covered unless they cause a disablement which lasts for more than 3 days.

Companies should, therefore, understand the scope of coverages offered by a workmen’s compensation policy. They should take note of the types of contingencies covered under the policy to know which types of accidents would be covered. If non-fatal accidents are not covered under the plan, injuries arising out of such accidents would not be covered. However, since non-fatal accidents do not result in major injuries, the company can expect to face a minimal liability, which it can usually pay on its own. 

A workmen’s compensation policy, therefore, covers major instances of accident-related claims which lead to financial distress for the worker as well as company.