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Workers’ compensation and internships

Summer is a time when many high school and college students serve in internships to gain valuable real world experience. Some work in various branches of government — particularly at the federal and state level. Others work in companies and nonprofit organizations that do the kind of work they’re interested in pursuing as an eventual career. Internships are also a great way to make connections that can help young people after they’re finished with their education and looking for a job.

Internships can be paid or unpaid. However, that factor shouldn’t impact whether they’re entitled to workers’ compensation if they suffer an injury or illness due to their work.

In most cases, interns are legally required to be covered by workers’ comp insurance. There are a few exceptions, such as when they’re doing nonmanual work for charitable, educational or religious institutions.

It’s important to understand, however, that in many states, if you choose to be covered by workers’ comp insurance, you forfeit your right to take legal action against your employer for an injury or illness. That workers’ comp coverage may not be enough to pay for medical care and other expenses after a serious injury. Therefore, if your child is going to be doing work that could be dangerous, it’s essential to understand the options and choose the one that’s best for them.

Workers’ compensation laws vary throughout the country. Therefore, whether your child is working for your member of Congress in Washington, D.C., or interning at an architectural firm in Philadelphia, you should find out what the relevant laws are. If your child is injured on the job or suffers an illness as a result of their work environment, it’s essential to understand what their rights are to compensation.


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