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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Hurricane Relief Volunteers Need to Know About Workers Compensation

Hurricane relief volunteers are entitled to workers compensation benefits for injuries and illnesses that occurred as a result of their participation in relief efforts. In order to claim those benefits injured volunteers need to make sure that they follow some simple steps.

1. Make sure that they establish an employment relationship for the agency or company conducting the relief work. In other words, the volunteer, even if earning no money, must be an employee of the the company conducting the rescue and/or relief effort. The best evidence would be a written agreement that the worker is to be considered an employee of the company. 

2. Report to the report if an accident or injury occurs arising out of and in the course of the employment. This report should be made as quickly as possible following the event or manifestation of illness. This should be followed up immediate with a written communication to the employer advising that an injury or illness occurred and that medical treatment, if necessary, is being sought.

3. Record the names and addresses witnesses to the even or exposure.

4. Seek medical care if required. If it is an emergency and you are unable to first notify your employer, seek medical attention first and then report the event. Most emergency rooms will record your event history and notify your employer, but that is not always the case. Therefore, advise your employer where and when you sought emergency medical care as soon as possible.

5. If you are advised by a medical profession to stay out of work, then obtain that information in writing. Make a copy of the lost time order and give the copy to your employer.

6. See the advice of an attorney at law familiar with workers' compensation matters since volunteer work in emergency situations produced a lot of complication issues. Those issue are inherited from the chaos and complications that occur in the wake of a major natural disaster such as a hurricane.

Volunteering for the hurricane relief effort is a noble gesture. Workers, in the emotional haste to assist, must also insure that they remain insured for workers' compensation benefits.