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When is An Employee Not Eligible For Workers' Compensation in California?

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Workers’ compensation is a system designed to protect employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses in the United States. Most people who sustain job injuries will be eligible for compensation, but some will not.

When is an Employee Not Eligible for Workers' Compensation? 

An employee may not be eligible for workers’ compensation in some situations such as:

  • Volunteer Work: Workers’ compensation typically does not cover injuries sustained while doing volunteer work.
  • Self-Inflicted Injuries: If an employee deliberately harms themselves, they are generally not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Injuries Incurred Off-Duty or Off-Site: Injuries that occur while an employee is off-duty or not on the employer’s premises may not be covered.
  • Violation of Company Policies: If an injury occurs while an employee is violating company policies or engaging in illegal activities, they may not be eligible for workers’ compensation.

These are general guidelines, but workers’ compensation laws and regulations can vary by location. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the specific laws that apply in your jurisdiction.

When is an Employee Not Eligible for Workers' Compensation?

Common Reasons Employees May Not be Eligible for Workers' Compensation 


The employer must be enrolled in the program to be eligible for workers’ compensation after a work-related injury. It is a requirement in every state that employers must enroll in the program when they have more than 2-4 full-time workers. Employers may choose not to pay the premiums or falsely claim enrollment in the program, even when they are not.

If an employee is injured and their employer does not provide workers’ compensation, they may not receive all the benefits. [1] Speak with our workers’ comp lawyer in California for more information.


Workers’ compensation benefits typically do not apply to freelancers, part-time workers, consultants, or telecommuters. If you work as a driver for Uber or Lyft, it is important to review your contract as these companies classify you as a freelance worker rather than a full-time employee. In the event of an accident, you are responsible for handling the situation independently.

Workers’ compensation benefits are typically not provided to certain groups of workers, including domestic workers, caregivers, farm workers on small farms, loaned employees, seasonal workers, undocumented workers, or those with illegal status in the US. Students who volunteer at a hospital or factory are not eligible for workers’ compensation in the event of an injury. A limited number of states provide volunteer firefighters with workers’ compensation benefits.

Type of Injury:

For an injury to be covered by workers’ comp it must be related to the job, such as experiencing inhalation injury from working with hazardous chemicals or developing carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive typing. It should be noted that an injury that is unrelated to the job or assigned tasks cannot be classified as a workplace injury.

Common Reasons Employees May Not be Eligible for Workers' Compensation


There are specific deadlines for reporting the injury to the manager, who is then responsible for filing the case with the agency within a specified timeframe. You may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you do not meet this deadline, even by a few hours.

Contact our California workers’ compensation attorneys today for a free consultation regarding your injury or illness. Pay us nothing unless we win!


In California, most employers are required to provide workers' compensation benefits to their employees, and employees generally cannot opt out of this coverage. Certain employees, such as partners, sole proprietors, and corporate officers, can choose to exclude themselves from workers' compensation coverage. Sometimes, independent contractors may also opt out of workers' compensation coverage. 

Yes, in the state of California, it is generally a legal requirement for all employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. This requirement applies to all employers, regardless of the number of employees they have, and includes full-time, part-time, and temporary workers. The purpose of this insurance is to provide benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

Failure to provide workers' compensation insurance can result in significant penalties and legal consequences for employers. There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as for certain types of business entities.

In California, you may qualify for workers' compensation if you are an employee who has been injured or becomes ill as a direct result of your job. Workers' compensation benefits typically cover medical expenses, lost wages, and disability payments. Family members of employees who die as a result of a work-related injury or illness may also be eligible for death benefits. It's important to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible and seek medical attention.


[1] California, S. O. (n.d.). Workers’ Compensation Insurance. https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/85-wc/

Goldberg & Loren


Phone: (213) 214-2826

George Goldberg

If you need professional legal guidance regarding eligibility for workers' compensation in California, our team of experienced lawyers is ready to assist you. Feel free to contact us today for the answers you need.

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