Posted on: 12 May 2015
If you work as a dancer or other physical performance artist, you likely view some aches and pains as a necessary hazard of your job. But what happens if you suffer a severe or potentially career-ending injury while performing your job? Although many professional athletes and others with highly specialized (and physical) jobs can receive their regular paycheck and other disability benefits while recovering from a work-related injury, you may be surprised to find that the only benefits available to you are workers compensation payments. Read on to learn more about how you can receive workers compensation if you're injured on the job, as well as whether you are (or should be) entitled to any other disability payments after such an injury.
What does workers comp cover?
Workers compensation insurance, or workers comp, is a type of insurance paid by the employer to help compensate an employee for medical expenses or lost wages accrued after the employee has been injured on the job. In general, to be eligible for workers comp payments, you'll have to report the injury to your supervisor fairly quickly after it occurs. You'll then need to visit a doctor within the workers comp network to have your injury evaluated and let the insurance carrier know approximately how long you'll need to receive benefits.
The insurance industry is regulated by the individual states, so workers compensation coverages and amounts can vary widely, depending upon where you live; however, in all states, employers fitting certain parameters are required to carry workers compensation coverage on their employees.
What happens if a dancer or performance artist suffers a physical injury on the job?
Many dancers and artists are employed by production companies, and the terms of this employment should clearly be spelled out in the employment contract. These contracts may include provisions granting you your regular salary (in addition to any workers compensation payments) if you suffer an injury while performing your job. Some employers will also offer short- or long-term disability insurance to their employees at a reduced cost. However, if your employment contract doesn't directly address the issue of injury pay, it's unlikely you're entitled to your regular salary while you're out of work recovering from a job-related injury.
If you're not considered an employee of the company for which you work, but are instead an independent contractor, your "employer" is not required to carry injury coverage on you -- even workers comp -- unless this is specified in the contract. Unfortunately, the first time many artists realize they are contractors rather than employees is after they have already suffered injury.
What should you do if you've suffered an on-the-job injury?
If you've suffered an injury and are unsure of how you'll pay your bills while recovering, you should contact a workers comp attorney. This attorney will be able to help evaluate your employment status and carefully review any contracts to determine precisely what is legally owed to you. In some situations, you may want to file a lawsuit against your employer to force a legal determination that you are an employee, not a contractor, and therefore should have been insured under your employer's workers comp insurance.
You'll also want to begin collecting documentation of your injury and all related medical and personal expenses. If you do qualify for workers compensation payments, you'll need to provide a full accounting of the expenses that qualify for reimbursement or compensation to ensure you'll be "made whole" by the insurance policy.
Finally, you'll want to have your attorney look over your current employment contract and make any changes he or she deems necessary to protect you from future physical (and financial) injury. If you don't have a contract, your attorney can draft one. It's important to have legal counsel whenever entering into a contract to provide a service that could potentially leave you injured, just to ensure you're adequately protected.Share