Workers' Compensation Newsletter

Special Rules for Minors Regarding Workers' Compensation Coverage

Most employees are covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance, which bars an injured employee from directly bringing a lawsuit against his employer. However, there are different Workers’ Compensation measures for employed minors.

Who Constitutes a Minor for Workers’ Compensation Purposes?

State laws vary greatly on Workers’ Compensation issues regarding minors, including at what age an employee is considered a minor. States will also often have legislation that prescribes the terms and conditions of a minor’s employment.

Usually, the age of majority will depend on the state and the profession of the minor. Often times, certain hazardous professions will have higher age requirements. Also, a minor may not be covered if he is emancipated, due to reasons such as marriage or if there are extenuating reasons to not deem the individual a minor (such as a 17-year-old who has taken and passed the GED test).

Does it Matter if the Minor is Legally or Illegally Employed?

The fact that the minor is legally or illegally employed usually has no effect on Workers’ Compensation coverage. Even if a minor used fraud to obtain his job, such as lying about his age, the employer will still be responsible in some capacity for Workers’ Compensation. There are two views among the states:

  1. Double compensation for a minor, or
  2. Workers’ Compensation only

Some states allow double compensation for a minor. A minor in one of those states would be allowed to recover benefits under Workers’ Compensation as well as file a separate lawsuit against his employer. Other states allow minors to recover Workers’ Compensation benefits only, protecting the employer from a separate lawsuit.

Rules regarding minors and conditions of employment pertaining to Workers’ Compensation are very state specific. As such, minors and employers would be advised to become informed on the law in their particular jurisdiction.

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