Workers’ Compensation in Washington, DC
What kind of work do you do?
Business owner in woodshop consulting clipboard.
Choose from the nation's best insurance providers
Logos of Insureon's business insurance carrier partners

Washington, D.C. workers' compensation insurance

District of Columbia law requires every business with one or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This policy covers the cost of medical care for injured employees and protects employers from lawsuits.

Who needs workers’ comp in Washington, D.C.?

Washington businesses with one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation covers workplace injuries and related liabilities for business owners.

Workers’ compensation insurance in Washington is no-fault coverage, which means the employee is covered regardless of whether the employer or an employee is at fault for the injury. It’s designed for two purposes:

  • To provide complete coverage to any employee who suffers a work-related injury or illness
  • To allow employers to avoid lawsuits for workers’ injuries

The Washington, D.C., workers’ compensation requirements apply to every business, even if an employee is part-time or seasonal.

Do sole proprietors in Washington, D.C. need workers' compensation?

Sole proprietors and independent contractors are exempt from workers' compensation insurance requirements. However, they may choose to buy insurance coverage to protect against the high cost of medical bills and lost time from work.

Even if you have health insurance, your provider might deny a claim for a job-related injury, leaving you with expensive medical bills.

How much does workers' compensation insurance cost in Washington, D.C.?

A small business owner calculating their workers' comp insurance payments

The average cost of workers’ compensation in Washington, D.C. is $71 per month.

Your workers' comp premium is calculated based on a few factors, including:

  • Payroll
  • Location
  • Number of employees
  • Industry and risk factors
  • Coverage limits
  • Claims history

How can business owners save money on workers' compensation?

To save money on workers' comp insurance, it's important to make sure you classify your employees correctly. Employees with desk jobs or other jobs with a low risk of injury cost less to insure. This also helps you avoid misclassification fines.

In some cases, small business owners can choose to buy pay-as-you-go workers' compensation. This type of workers' comp policy has a low upfront premium, and lets you make payments based on your actual payroll instead of estimated payroll. It's useful for businesses that hire seasonal help or have fluctuating numbers of employees.

Finally, a documented safety program can help lower workers' comp costs. A safer workplace means fewer accidents, which helps keep your premium low.

How does workers' compensation work in Washington, D.C.?

When a worker is injured on the job or develops an occupational disease, workers' comp provides medical benefits and wage loss benefits. While the employee is unable to work, they receive compensation for lost wages equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage.

Workers' compensation benefits in Washington, D.C. include:

  • Medical benefits that cover surgery, tests, and other medical treatment
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation if the employee is unable to return to their former work
  • Death benefits

The injured employee has the right to choose the treating physician, but may not change physicians without approval. For details, visit the Department of Employment Services page on Employee's Rights and Obligations [PDF].

How does workers' compensation insurance protect employers?

When you buy a workers' compensation policy, it almost always includes employer's liability insurance. This coverage helps pay for legal expenses if an employee blames their employer for an injury.

Additionally, the exclusive remedy provision in most workers' comp policies prohibits an employee from suing their employer once they accept workers' comp benefits.

What are the penalties for not having workers’ compensation in Washington, D.C.?

If the employer fails to secure workers’ compensation coverage, they will be fined between $1,000 and $10,000. Some officers of a corporation can be held personally liable, in addition to the company itself.

An employer is required to report any work injury to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If the employer fails to report it, they could face a penalty of up to $1,000.

Additional violations of the workers’ compensation laws could result in misdemeanor charges, fines, or imprisonment for up to one year.

Find workers' compensation quotes for Washington, D.C. businesses

Workers’ compensation death benefits in Washington, D.C.

If an employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, death benefits can be awarded to surviving dependents.

Dependents include the deceased worker’s surviving spouse or domestic partner, surviving children under the age of 18 or children who are incapable of supporting themselves because of a physical or mental disability, and full-time students under age 23.

If there’s no spouse, partner, or child who meets these criteria, it’s possible that benefits could be provided to a parent, grandparent, sibling, or grandchild who was financially dependent on the deceased worker.

An eligible survivor can receive benefits based on a maximum amount set each year that is contingent upon the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of their death.

The spouse or domestic partner receives 50% of the worker’s average weekly wage if there are no children, until the spouse or partner remarries or enters into a new partnership. If that happens, the survivor can receive a lump-sum payment of two years’ worth of benefits instead of weekly benefits.

If there’s a spouse or partner and child, the survivor would receive an additional 17% for each child up to a maximum of 67% of the deceased workers’ wages. If the survivor remarries or re-partners, the child would receive 50% of the wages, and multiple children would receive 66.67%.

If there’s a child but no spouse or partner, the child is entitled to 50% of the wages, and multiple children would share 67%.

The family of a deceased worker in the District of Columbia is entitled to funeral costs up to $5,000.

District of Columbia workers’ compensation settlements

A workers’ compensation settlement is an agreement between the parties that will resolve your workers’ compensation claim. This benefits both the employee and the employer. A settlement in a workers’ compensation claim is a full and final resolution.

The primary form of settlement for a workers’ compensation claim in Washington, D.C., is a lump sum. Sometimes the insurance company will agree to a structured settlement, which pays benefits in installments over a set number of years.

The District of Columbia Office of Workers’ Compensation is responsible for approving all settlements.

Workers’ compensation statute of limitations in Washington, D.C.

The statute of limitations, or the amount of time an injured worker has to file a claim, is one year from the date of the injury or the date when the injured person reasonably should have been aware that the injury was related to the workplace.

Get free workers’ comp quotes with Insureon

Start a free online application today to compare workers’ compensation quotes for your small business from leading U.S. insurance carriers. Insureon’s licensed agents specialize in insurance for numerous Washington businesses.

Updated: February 5, 2024
Find workers' comp insurance quotes
Save money by comparing insurance quotes from top-rated insurers.
What is a workers' compensation ghost policy?What to do when your employee is injured at workOther recommended insurance policies for small businesses in Washington, D.C.What is a minimum premium workers’ compensation policy?Compare workers’ comp rates by stateBest workers' compensation insurance for small businesses