If you’ve been injured on the job, you’re probably wondering what kind of benefits you’ll receive. As part of a typical workers’ compensation claim, in general, injured employees are entitled to four different kinds of benefits:
- Weekly Compensation
- Permanent Impairment Benefits
- Payment of Medical Bills
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Workers’ compensation laws do not provide for additional benefits for pain and suffering. They are basically income protection laws. An injured employee receives benefits due to an inability to work. If pain prevents the employee from returning to work, then he/she will receive weekly compensation, but will not receive additional compensation for pain and suffering like in a personal injury case.
Temporary vs. Permanent Disability
Temporary disability means that the employee is still recovering, and is expected to get better. Permanent disability means that the employee is not able to work and is not expected to improve.
Total vs. Partial Disability
Total disability means that the employee cannot work at any type of employment; he or she is considered completely disabled.
Partial disability means that the employee has some sort of work capacity, and perhaps the ability to perform at least sedentary or light duty work.
How Much Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
The amount of weekly benefits for total disability is usually 66% or 2/3 of the employee’s pre-injury average weekly wage. This amount is calculated by the employee’s actual earnings, including overtime, for a certain number of weeks before the injury, divided by that number of weeks. However, there is a cap on that amount, which fluctuates year to year.
The benefits for partial disability are calculated in a different way. Since an employee on partial disability is assumed to be able to work, at least part-time or in a light duty job, partial disability benefits are calculated by reducing the employee’s benefits by the amount of income that he or she is able to earn. The actual formula is two-thirds of the difference between what you used to make before your injury, and what you are able to earn now. This is paid on a monthly basis, and this called Supplemental Earnings Benefits (SEB).
How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last?
Generally, you can collect temporary total disability benefits until you return to some type of work, or your doctor says that you can return to some type of work.
If your work injuries prevent you from returning to your old job, but you can still do some type of light duty work, then you may be entitled to monthly SEB. However, a person cannot receive worker’s comp indemnity benefits for more than ten years.
The exception is if you are permanently and totally disabled. In this case, you can receive worker’s comp indemnity benefits for life. However, this must be proved in court by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is difficult to do.
Payment For Medical Treatment
An injured employee is entitled to have all of his/her reasonable and necessary medical treatment paid. Most states allow the employee to be reimbursed for all necessary transportation costs for traveling to and from the medical appointments, including mileage, tolls, and parking.
Vocational rehabilitation is job retraining. If an injured employee cannot return to his/her previous line of work, most states will require the workers’ compensation insurer to help the employee to find light duty employment. If that cannot be found, then the insurer could be required to pay for retraining into a new line of work.
Do I Need A Lawyer To Collect Workers’ Compensation?
Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is very important because:
- it helps you make sure that during your original claim the workers’ compensation insurance company plays by the rules and pays you all of the benefits you are supposed to receive;
- the attorney has the knowledge and experience to safely determine if you are better off keeping your workers’ comp claim open for the long term or if you might be better off settling; and
- the attorney will make sure that if you choose to settle, you are not cheated by the insurance company on the amount and that you are paid appropriately for your work injury.
So remember, if you have a work injury, make sure you have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Shreveport working on your behalf to help you maximize your claim and even a possible settlement.