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Do Interns and Volunteers Get Workers Compensation?


If you are a volunteer or an intern and get injured on the job, you first have to check if your employer carries workers compensation insurance.

The state of Missouri requires all employers with more than five workers to carry workers compensation insurance. This policy covers all the people working for that employer so that, in case of an accident where someone gets injured or sick, the medical treatment will be covered by the policy.

But sometimes it can be unclear who is considered an “employee”, and who is covered by these laws.

St. Louis Work Comp Attorneys

What Does the Law Say?

According to the Missouri Workers Compensation laws, an employee is anyone who is in service of the employer regardless of the contract, be it expressed or implied, written or oral, or even if the employee is elected for a particular position. The law also covers minors working for an employee, even if their work relationship is in violation of the law.

Here are some exceptions to the rules:

  • Companies with less than 5 employees, as in their case the insurance is elective, and some employers may choose not to carry it
  • Company owners
  • Contracted drivers from a motor carrier company
  • People performing services for tax-exempt organizations

Workers compensation insurance therefore also extends to volunteers and interns, regardless if they are paid or not for their services. The only impediment here is if the organization or company you are working with is required by law to carry this insurance.

For instance, if you are a volunteer at your local church, and get injured while working on behalf of the institution, getting workers compensation depends on whether the church carries the policy for their volunteers, as the government views all churches as tax-exempt, and not obligated to carry insurance.

What Should You Do in Case of an Injury?

If you are a volunteer or an intern and get injured on the job, you first have to check if your employer carries workers compensation insurance.

In case they do, then you need to give official written notice of your injuries to the employer, and then file a claim for workers compensation. The request will be reviewed by the insurance company, which will also decide how much of the cost of treatment to cover. If you experience any difficulties here, you should contact a St. Louis worker injury lawyer for additional help.

If, however, the employer does not have workers compensation, then you have some other legal options that could potentially help cover medical costs:

  • Personal health insurance
  • Filing a personal injury claim against the employer
  • Suing the employer for negligence

Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyer

The laws in Missouri say that you are entitled to workers compensation regardless if you are an intern or employee, but the particularities of your case are often the ones that decide the outcome. To get a better sense of how to proceed, discuss your case with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation lawyer to see what your options are.

When we take your case, we make recovering benefits for you our priority, and we put decades of experience, a proven record of success and a client-focused approach behind your workers’ compensation or personal injury case.

Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann today at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online case evaluation form.

Updated: March 20, 2020
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