Is FedEx required to cover your injury?
As an undergraduate student at Yale University, Frederick W. Smith wrote a term paper proposing a way to accommodate time-sensitive shipments. Despite receiving a poor grade for the paper, Frederick persisted and founded FedEx in 1971.
The popularity of online shopping has grown about 15 percent every year for the last decade. In 2020, due in large part to the Coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce sales jumped an astonishing 50 percent.
E-commerce growth is good news for FedEx, whose annual revenue tops $75 billion, but the rapid growth of online shopping should raise concerns about the safety of the 400,000 people employed by the world’s largest transportation company.
Let’s take a closer look at whether FedEx employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits after suffering a work-related injury.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers' compensation is a form of insurance that provides financial benefits to employees who are injured on the job. It is a no-fault insurance system, which means injured workers can receive benefits regardless of who's at fault for the injury.
Workers' compensation laws are primarily intended to ensure that employees who are injured at work receive compensation for their injuries. However, workers' compensation also protects employers by prohibiting (in most cases) injured employees from filing personal injury lawsuits against employers based on work-related injuries.
Every state requires certain employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
What benefits does workers’ compensation provide?
In most states, injured workers can receive the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Reasonable and necessary medical expenses (doctor visits, hospital bills, prescriptions, physical therapy, etc.)
- Wage loss benefits
- Death benefits for certain dependents
Wage loss benefits are calculated according to the nature of the injury, but the amount you receive is generally ⅔ of your average weekly wages if you can’t work (subject to a statutory maximum) or ⅔ of the difference in your average weekly wages (subject to a statutory maximum) if you can return to work, but can’t return to the same job.
Workers' compensation checks are not taxable.
Is FedEx required to carry workers’ compensation insurance?
FedEx is required to carry workers’ compensation for its 400,000 full and part-time employees.
Your specific injury must be covered to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Whether or not your injury is covered depends, in part, on the language of the workers’ compensation statute in your state.
But generally speaking, all injuries and illnesses (other than those that are self-inflicted) are covered by workers' compensation insurance so long as the injury or illness arose out of your employment.
An injury is NOT considered to have arisen out of your employment if it occurred at work but would have occurred anywhere. For example, if you have a heart attack while delivering a package due to high cholesterol, you probably won't receive workers' compensation benefits because your heart attack did not necessarily arise out of your employment. Your heart attack could have, for example, occurred while you were having breakfast at home on a Saturday morning.
Along these lines, mental health issues are generally not covered unless it can be proven that the stress related to your job was a substantial contributing factor to the onset of your illness. First responders and those who work in similar fields are typically the only workers who receive benefits for mental health issues.
Workers' compensation covers both traumatic work injuries and occupational work injuries:
- Traumatic work injuries are those that result from a one-time accident at work (for example, suffering a back injury while loading a package onto a FedEx delivery truck).
- Occupational injuries occur over a period of time (for example,repetitive movement injuries).
Common causes and types of FedEx employee injuries
FedEx employee injuries are on the rise in the United States. The rate of time off taken after non-fatal injuries has risen 28% since 2017, according to the company's own data.
When it comes to FedEx, workers’ compensation claims are typically filed by:
- FedEx warehouse workers who sort and load packages, and
- FedEx delivery drivers
As you might imagine, warehouse workers typically suffer back injuries from loading heavy packages. Warehouse workers also face threats posed by heavy machinery and harmful chemicals.
Common injuries sustained by FedEx warehouse workers include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Burn injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
On November 12, 2019, one of the shipping containers Duntate was scheduled to unload was closed, but not locked. When packages fell against the door, it swung open, striking Duntate in the back of the leg. Duntate fell forward into a metal pole.
Duntae Young was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to a nearby hospital.
Delivery truck drivers face many of the same risks that warehouse workers face, but they also face the possibility of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. This risk is significant when you consider the fact that FedEx drivers are often busiest around the holidays, often driving through snow to deliver last-minute packages.
Common injuries sustained by FedEx delivery drivers include:
- Fractured bones
- Repetitive motion disorders
- Traumatic brain injuries
Can I sue FedEx if I’m injured as an employee?
Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, meaning a workers’ compensation claim is typically the sole remedy for an employee who suffers a work-related injury.
There are, however, three important exceptions that might apply to your case:
- Employees in some states can reject workers’ compensation coverage. If an employee rejects coverage before their injury occurs, the employee retains their right to pursue a civil lawsuit against FedEx.
- If an employee is injured through the “willful misconduct” of FedEx, the injured employee can typically file a civil lawsuit against the employer.
- If the employee’s injury was caused by a third-party (someone other than the employer or a colleague), the employee can file a workers’ compensation claim and sue the third-party. Third-party lawsuits are common in situations in which a FedEx driver is hit by a third-party driver.
The process for filing a workers’ compensation claim varies from state to state, but there are 5 common steps:
- Report your injury. You have a certain number of days to report your injury in writing to your employer. Not sure how many days you have? Reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your state or contact your local workers’ compensation agency.
- Seek medical care. In most states, FedEx selects your treating physician. However, in the event of a medical emergency, you can typically seek treatment from any medical professional and still receive coverage.
- Wait for FedEx to file an insurance claim. It’s FedEx’s responsibility to file a claim with their workers’ compensation insurer once you provide the company with written notice of your injury. If FedEx refuses to file a claim, contact a workers’ compensation attorney or your local workers’ compensation agency.
- Wait for a decision from the insurer. Your workers’ compensation insurer must make a decision within a certain time period (this time period varies depending on your state). Most claims that are denied are denied because the insurance company didn’t believe the injury was work-related or there was a lack of information concerning the injury.
- Denied? Talk to an attorney. All states have some type of appeal process if your workers’ compensation claim is denied. It’s strongly encouraged that you hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle your appeal.
Ready to talk to a workers' compensation attorney about your claim? Find one using our free online directory.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.