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If your business has employees in the state of Delaware, you’ll need to make sure you adhere to Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance laws. Workers’ Compensation provides medical and financial benefits for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses or for their survivors in the case of an employee death.
Who needs Workers’ Compensation Insurance in Delaware?
Delaware requires all employers with one or more employees to obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance. In Delaware, an “employee” is generally defined as any individual who performs services for another under a contract of employment either made in Delaware or to be performed wholly or partly in Delaware and is not an independent contractor.
The Delaware Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL) defines all of the requirements for Workers’ Comp in Delaware, and the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) monitors, enforces, and administers the program. Ensuring your company is in compliance is critical, as there are serious penalties and fines for those who fail to abide by state regulations.
What employees are covered under Workers’ Compensation in Delaware?
Almost all workers are covered under Workers’ Compensation in Delaware. If you provide work or services for an employer, and you are not an independent contractor, you will likely be eligible for Workers’ Compensation Insurance.
The following are categories of employees that are eligible for Workers’ Comp coverage:
- Full-time and part-time employees
- Apprentices and interns
- Undocumented workers
The following are categories of employees that are generally excluded or exempt from Workers’ Comp coverage:
- Independent contractors
- Casual workers
- Farm laborers
- Sole proprietors and partners of a partnership
- Direct sellers
- Domestic workers whose earnings are less than $750 in cash from a single household in a three-month period
- Real estate salespeople who work on a commission-only basis
What Workers’ Compensation benefits do employees receive?
Under Workers’ Compensation in Delaware, employers are required to provide the following benefits to employees who are injured in the course of employment:
- Employers are required to provide full coverage of all medical expenses considered necessary by a physician, including medical services, surgery, hospitalization, medicine, and supplies.
- The employee has the right to choose the treating physician.
- Injured employees are entitled to receive mileage reimbursement for medically necessary travel at the current state allowance rate.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
- Employees who are unable to work due to a work-related injury are eligible for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, which provides 66 and two-thirds percent of the worker’s average weekly wage before injury.
- The secretary of labor establishes minimum and maximum benefit amounts, which change yearly. For accidents that occurred from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the maximum TTD benefit was $747.66 per week, and the minimum benefit amount was $249.22 per week.
- Employees can continue to receive TTD benefits for as long as they are unable to work due to a work-related condition.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
- If injured employees are able to return to work in a partial or limited capacity while recovering, they may be eligible for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits provide two-thirds of the difference between a worker’s pre- and post-injury average weekly wage.
- The secretary of labor establishes minimum and maximum benefit amounts, which change yearly. For accidents that occurred from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the maximum TPD benefit was $747.66 per week, and the minimum benefit amount was $249.22 per week.
- TPD benefits are available for a maximum of 300 weeks.
Permanent Disability Benefits
- Employees who suffer a permanent impairment may be eligible for Permanent Disability (PD) benefits.
- PD benefits provide 66 and two-thirds percent of a worker’s average weekly wage pre-injury.
- The number of benefit weeks available can vary based on the body part that was injured and the severity of the injury. The WCL’s schedule of injuries explains how long benefits will be paid and what benefits are available for different types of injuries. A “scheduled” loss is one involving arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, and ears. A “nonscheduled” loss is one involving the back, heart, lungs, etc.
- Permanent disabilities include the loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, or eyes; spinal injuries resulting in paralysis of both legs, both arms, or one leg and one arm; and injuries to the skull resulting in incurable damage.
- The secretary of labor establishes minimum and maximum benefit amounts, which change yearly. For accidents that occurred from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the maximum PPD benefit was $747.66 per week, and the minimum benefit amount was $249.22 per week.
- Employees that suffer a disfigurement such as a scar, burn, or amputation may file a petition for disfigurement benefits within one year after the accident or surgery causing the disfigurement.
- Disfigurement benefits provide 66 and two-thirds percent of a worker’s average weekly wage pre-injury.
- The number of benefit weeks varies depending on the severity of the scar. The maximum is 150 weeks.
- Employers are required to pay burial expenses of up to $3,500.
- A worker’s dependents may be eligible to receive up to 80 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, depending on the number of dependents.
- The secretary of labor establishes minimum and maximum benefit amounts, which change yearly. For accidents that occurred from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, the maximum benefit was $747.66 per week, and the minimum benefit amount was $249.22 per week.
- Death benefits can be paid to a surviving spouse for life but will be terminated upon remarriage. A spouse is entitled to a lump sum of two years of benefit payments upon remarriage. Dependent children can receive benefits until they are 18, or until they are 25 if they are full-time students and are not married. Physically or mentally disabled dependent children may receive further benefits.
What are the penalties for breaking Delaware Workers’ Compensation laws?
Failure to adhere to the Workers’ Compensation laws set out by the WCL can result in significant fines and even imprisonment. In order to avoid any costly penalties, it’s important to consult the WCL or your insurer to ensure you are in compliance. Below are the major ways in which companies can be penalized:
Failure to Maintain Coverage
- Employers that fail to comply with Workers’ Compensation requirements face a fine of three times the premium for the unpurchased insurance. For employers that were previously insured, the amount is determined based on the last premium rate the carrier charged before coverage ended. Employers that were not previously covered will pay a fine based on the most expensive premium charged by any insurer in the state at the time of the offense.
- Employers may be required to pay between $10 and $250 per employee for each day that employees were not covered.
- If an employer does not have coverage for 30 days or more, the employer may be prohibited from doing business until the situation is resolved.
Failure to Report Injuries
- Employers that fail to report an accident within 10 days may face a fine of between $100 and $250 for each offense.
Failure to Pay Benefits
- If an employer fails to pay benefits in a timely manner, it may be fined between $500 and $2,500.
Retaliation or Discrimination Against Employees
- Employers that retaliate or discriminate against employees for making a workers’ compensation claim face a penalty of between $500 and $3,000.
How much does Workers’ Compensation Insurance cost in Delaware?
According to the National Academy of Social Insurance Workers’ Compensation Report (November 2020), the average employer cost for Workers’ Compensation in Delaware was $1.44 per $100 of covered wages. This figure is estimated across all insurers and all industries, so the cost to your particular business may vary.
How does the Workers’ Compensation claims process work in Delaware?
Employers must report any occupational injury or illness to the OWC within 10 days of learning of it. Employers must pay medical expenses within 30 days of being billed for the expenses. If the employer contests the charges or requires verification, the employee must be notified in writing. If employers want to have the right to dispute a medical claim later, they may include a statement with the medical payment that declares the claim is in dispute.
After learning of an employee’s work-related condition, the employer must send a notice to the employee within 15 days, either accepting the claim, denying the claim, or explaining that it is unable to make a decision. The reason for a denial or inability to make a decision must be included. If the claim is accepted, Workers’ Compensation benefits must be paid within 14 days.
Delaware Workers’ Compensation Insurance Resources
For more information on Delaware Workers’ Compensation laws and requirements, please visit the following resources: