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Can Interns Get Workers’ Compensation in Ohio?

October 25, 2021

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Internships are a great way for people who are new to certain industries to gain valuable work experience without being required to meet the same work standards as other employees.

Most internships involve doing light work or watching more experienced employees perform complex tasks. But in some cases, internships are more hands-on, which can result in greater learning opportunities—and greater physical risks.

People who work as interns can get hurt on the job just as easily as people in part-time and full-time roles. But while people who are on company payrolls as employees are eligible to get workers’ compensation benefits after workplace injuries, interns are often in a grey area and access to benefits isn’t guaranteed.

Interns Can Get Workers’ Compensation If They’re Considered Employees

All workers in Ohio, regardless of their titles within a company, are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they fit the legal definition of an employee. However, few interns are classified as employees by the companies they work for—even if they should be.

The criteria for being an employee involves:

  • Having a set work schedule (part- or full-time)
  • Being told where, when, and how to do your job
  • Receiving training and equipment from the company
  • Working for a single company

Some interns check off most or all of these boxes in their day-to-day work. But if they get hurt at work and try to file for workers’ compensation, their employers may be uncooperative and refuse to do their part, as the interns aren’t considered employees internally and thus aren’t considered eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even if they should be.

Misclassified Employees Often Need Legal Help to Get Benefits

Just because an employer classifies an intern or another worker as a non-employee doesn’t mean that it’s true. Employers can assign any label they want to workers, but in the eyes of the law, only the criteria listed above matters when it comes to determining who is and isn’t an employee.

It’s not uncommon for companies to consider interns to be temp workers, independent contractors, or even volunteers. Those titles mean that interns who get hurt on the job may not have their injuries taken seriously by their employers, and their supervisors and managers may not fill out proper accident report forms because they don’t think it’s necessary.

When injured interns want to pursue workers’ compensation benefits, they may even be told by their employers that they’re ineligible. Because many interns are young and inexperienced, they may not question this, which can leave them paying out of pocket for their medical expenses and lost wages/career opportunities.

Our Ohio Workers’ Comp Lawyers Help Injured Interns Get Benefits

The workers’ compensation system is great for helping injured employees get back on their feet financially while they rest and recover. But because workplaces rely on so many non-traditional employees and workers, many injured people fall through the cracks and may believe that they aren’t covered. To make matters worse, their employers also may believe they aren’t covered, leading to lost benefits for no reason other than a misunderstanding of the law.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our workers’ compensation lawyers know that many workers beyond traditional 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday employees can receive benefits after injuries—regardless of what their employers say. It’s our goal to help these injured workers get the money they’re owed after on-the-job accidents.

If you or someone you love was injured at work and were told you’re ineligible for benefits because you’re an intern or other ineligible worker, we want to speak with you. We’ll review the facts of your work and your employment status, and if you’re eligible, we’ll work hard to help you get approved for benefits.

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