Essential workers in COVID-19 times tend to the sick, keep us fed, drive our buses, care for our elderly and more. We call them heroes. But when they fall in the line of duty, are we there for them?

Workers compensation is the system designed to take care of workers hurt or killed on the job. Employers provide insurance to cover injured workers’ medical treatment, partial payment of lost wages and death benefits; workers forfeit their right to sue their employer. It’s far from a perfect system, but it’s worked reasonably well for over a century in providing basic benefits to our injured workers.

Workers’ comp systems are administered by each state and their governing statutes vary. Essentially, compensable injuries, illnesses and deaths must be work-related. That’s an easy test to meet when a worker falls from a roof, or cuts their hand on a table saw.