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Updated: June 13, 2024

Washington, DC workers' compensation insurance to foster a worry-free workplace

Published By:

Jon Davis

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Most employers in Washington D.C. are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance, but keeping track of all the requirements can be time-consuming. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of who should receive coverage and how businesses can obtain a policy.

How does workers’ comp protect employees and employers?

Workers’ compensation insurance can be a lifeline for both businesses and employees in case of illness or injury sustained while on the job. Consider this scenario: an employee experiences a work-related accident or contracts an illness that prevents them from being able to come to work and complete their duties for a period of time. With a workers’ comp policy, they’ll receive partial wage replacement and have their medical bills covered.


For employers, workers compensation insurance  can also provide peace of mind. That’s because, in most cases, it offers the company protection from legal claims that might arise if an employee gets sick or injured on the job.

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Do all D.C. employers have to provide workers’ comp insurance?

Employers with one (1) or more employees should obtain coverage for all of their employees in the District of Columbia. Employers who have employees located outside the District are required to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy for coverage under the laws of the other states. However, sole proprietors, casual workers, and unpaid volunteers are not covered by this coverage.

What specifically is covered by workers compensation insurance?

The laws in Washington D.C. specify that any injury or illness to your employees resulting from their job is covered by workers’ compensation. That means no matter how serious or minor the injury, it is covered. The law further specifies that workers’ compensation protection begins immediately when a new employee begins their job in the District of Columbia.


What types of injuries or occupational illness does workers’ comp generally cover?


Temporary Total Disability (TTD): The worker is totally disabled for a certain time period, benefits are paid at 66 2/3% of the AWW.


Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): The worker is partially disabled for a certain time period, benefits are paid at 66 2/3% of the AWW.


Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): The worker has permanently lost a body member or the use of a body member, benefits are based on a scheduled award and TPD or TTD.


Permanent Total Disability (PTD): The worker is (1) disabled and cannot earn any wages in the same or other employment; or, (2) has loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or any two thereof. In either case, benefits may be paid at 66 2/3% of the AWW.


Disfigurement: Serious disfigurement to the face, head, neck or normally exposed bodily area(s) shall entitle the worker to a compensation award of up to $7,500.

How do you purchase workers’ comp insurance in Washington D.C.?

Business owners can purchase workers’ compensation insurance from an insurance agent or private insurance carriers that are authorized by the state to provide coverage For businesses that are unable to secure coverage from a private company, another option is what’s known as the assigned risk pool or the State Insurance Fund.


Are there penalties if an employer does not offer workers’ compensation?

Yes, there can be some unpleasant outcomes when an employer does not have coverage. For example, failure to provide workers’ compensation insurance could result in fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. In some cases, business leaders can also be held personally liable for injuries occurring while the business was not properly insured. Those who could be held responsible include the employer and/or the company’s president, secretary, and treasurer. Each of these individuals may be responsible for the failure to secure compensation coverage, and for the payment of any benefits that may accrue for an injury while uninsured.


If there are continuous violations of workers’ comp laws, this could add up and result in misdemeanor charges, fines, or imprisonment for up to one year.


Workers’ compensation information and injury reporting requirements

If you operate a business in the District of Columbia, you must post a Notice of Compliance, Form 1 DCWC, at every workplace location where it is visible by your employees. This poster must provide information about the company’s workers’ compensation insurance and the rights of employees. Posters with this insurance information should be available through your insurance carrier.


Filing injury reports

If an employee is injured on the job, the employer is required to file what’s known as an “Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease Form 8 DCWC” with the Office of Workers’ Compensation within 10 days of the injury or illness event. This timeline applies however, only if the employer has knowledge of the event. Copies of the completed Form 8 DCWC must be provided to both your insurance carrier and to the employee. Employers are also required to provide the employee with a copy of the Employee’s Rights and Obligations statement.


Required forms for reporting an injury, illness, or death of an employee can be found on the Department of Employment Services website here.

Benefits paid by workers compensation

In the event of an on the job injury or illness, employers are legally required to pay the cost of all medical treatment, medical supplies and also vocational rehabilitation benefits when necessary. In addition, employers must pay 66 ⅔% of the Average Weekly Wages (AWW) that the employee has lost as a result of the injury or illness. These benefits must be paid within 14 working days of your knowledge of the work-related injury or illness.


However, if an employer believes the injury may not be work related, a Form 11 DCWC must be completed and filed within 14 days. If employers fail to file this form and also fail to pay the employee’s workers’ compensation benefits, there may be penalties.


Delay of benefits

It’s also important to note that, if the Office of Workers’ Compensation decides that an employer or the employer’s insurance carrier has unreasonably delayed payment of benefits and did so in “bad faith,” the employer may then be required to pay the employee their actual wages, in addition to any compensation due during the period the delay took place.


More resources for employers in Washington D.C.


Workers’ compensation policy for peace of mind

Having a workers’ compensation policy is important for your company’s compliance with D.C. law and provides peace of mind to your team. It ensures that your employees are covered in case of work-related illnesses or injuries. As an employer, you can avoid legal problems arising from workplace accidents or sickness. If you have any questions, our team is available to assist you.


Please note all material in this article is for educational purposes only and does not constitute tax, benefits or legal advice. You should always contact a qualified tax, legal or financial professional, in your area for comprehensive tax or legal advice.

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Jon Davis is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at OnPay. He has over 15 years of experience writing for small and growing businesses. Jon lives and works in Atlanta.