No matter what caused the injury, whether worker’s negligence, employer’s negligence, or a combination of the two, any workers injured on the job receive benefits under the law.
When people are injured on the job, workers’ compensation laws generally prohibit them from suing their employer to recover financial compensation. Their option under the law is to file a claim against their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance.
The workers’ compensation system is a maze of regulations that can be very difficult for a layman to understand. Most of my clients are very concerned about how they are going to continue paying their bills and support their families. At the Berelc Law Firm, we make it a point to attempt to return calls promptly and treat every client compassionately.
Below are some of the common questions that I am often asked by clients.
HOW MUCH WILL I GET PAID IF I AM OUT OF WORK?
You are entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to the maximum allowed under the law for a job-related injury for as long as you are unable to return to work. You will receive these weekly benefits as long as you are totally disabled, but no longer than 400 weeks.
HOW SOON WILL I GET PAID AFTER MY INJURY?
You are entitled to weekly income benefits if you have more than seven days of lost time due to an injury. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day you missed work. If you are out more than 21 consecutive days due to your injury, you will be paid for the first week.
DOES MY EMPLOYER HAVE TO PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS?
Yes. If you received an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of your employment, your employer is required to pay for certain medical care and treatment.
HOW MUCH WILL A LAWYER COST?
Regardless of who you hire, the fees of an attorney will probably cost you 25 percent of your settlement. If no recovery is made, generally no attorney’s fees are owed. Your attorney is not entitled to fees on the recovery of medical expenses.
MAY I GO TO MY PERSONAL PHYSICIAN FOR TREATMENT FOR MY ON-THE-JOB INJURY?
No. The law requires that you select from a list of physicians posted by your company in a prominent location. This is typically called a posted panel of physicians. In addition, the law requires that you are informed of this list and understand its function.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS IF I RECEIVE A LIGHT-DUTY RELEASE FROM MY PHYSICIAN WHILE I AM OUT OF WORK?
Your employer will try to place you in a job that meets the limitations placed on you by your physician. However if a light-duty job is not available and you remain out of work in a light-duty status for 52 consecutive weeks or, if periods of disability are interrupted, a maximum of 78 total calendar weeks, your income benefits will be reduced automatically by law from the Temporary Total Disability benefit to the maximum eligible Temporary Partial Disability benefit.
If you are given a light-duty release and a light-duty job is available, your employer will expect you to return to work. The Workers’ Compensation Statue provides for a 15-working-day “grace period.” This allows an employee to attempt to perform a light-duty job without fear of losing benefits if they are unable to perform the job duties. An attempt is defined by eight cumulative hours or one scheduled workday, whichever is greater.
WHAT IS A CATASTROPHIC INJURY?
Catastrophic injuries are extremely severe injuries, i.e., loss of limbs, severe burns, etc. Your employer is required to appoint a rehabilitation supplier who has expertise in handling catastrophic cases. This person would assist you in managing your medical care as well as any other assistance you might need in the recovery period following the accident. You will be entitled to Temporary Total Disability benefits for as long as you remain unable to work. Once you have returned to work, the Temporary Total Disability benefits will cease. If you are placed in a lower paying job, you will begin receiving Temporary Partial Disability benefits. After those benefits have been paid, you will begin receiving Permanent Partial Disability benefits.