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Michael Cutler hurt himself on the job and his employer was eventually proven to be liable for his injury.
“A shelf in the walk-in cooler fell on my foot and it broke two bones. I knew my employer was at fault and paid into workers’ compensation to pay for accidents like the one I had. What I didn’t know at the time were the benefits that I am supposed to have because of workers’ compensation.”
Michael is not alone. Many workers who are eligible to receive workers’ compensation are unaware of the benefits provided by state and federal statutes.
First Things First: Health Care
Workers injured on the job have the legal right to receive the necessary treatment required to mitigate the pain and suffering caused by an injury. Under the medical care provision of workers’ compensation law, employer workers’ compensation insurance covers employee medical care bills, most prescriptions, and even reimbursement for the gas consumed during round trip visits to a health care provider. Some workers’ compensation plans require employees to visit the employer chosen physician, but the requirement typically ends after 30 days. At the end of 30 days, an injured employee must submit a written request to visit different physician.
If you suffer a serious on the job injury that prevents you from returning to work in a timely manner, you might be eligible to participate in an employer paid for occupational rehabilitation program. You receive part of your former income that distributes in a similar manner as partial income distributes for an injured worker who is on temporary disability. Most states cap occupational rehab payments, although employers have the option to compensate employees more than the state mandated minimum payment.
Injured employees that miss work because of a medical condition connected to an injury sustained on the job might qualify for temporary disability payments. Temporary disability payments offer partial compensation to make up for lost employment income. States set the minimum and maximum amount for temporary disability payments, but a good rule of thumb is about two-thirds of your average weekly gross compensation. Temporary disability payments typically go out every two weeks. A physician must confirm your inability to perform standard employment-related tasks before the first temporary disability check arrives.
A vast majority of states have enacted laws that create two types of wage loss benefits. Temporary partial lost wages go to employees who endure a work-related injury, but can still perform some of the job functions listed within the company job description. Temporary total lost wages compensate injured workers who cannot perform any of the essential functions required for a job. The word “total” is a bit misleading, since workers’ compensation does not pay full wages to injured workers, just a higher percentage than what is paid out for temporary partial lost wages.
When You Return to Work
When you return to work and receive the same or more compensation, you can expect your workers’ compensation benefits to end. However, most cases of employees returning to work involve the earning of less money than what was earned before a work-related injury. Your workers’ compensation partial or total lost wages benefit remains until you generate at least the same income you generated before suffering one or more injuries on the job. Unlike the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workers’ compensation law does not require your employer to reinstate you in the same position you had before sustaining the on the job injury
If any changes influence your work status during the time you receive workers’ compensation, you are legally required to inform your employer and the insurer that covers your workers’ compensation costs. Changes include the healing or deterioration of a work-related injury. You should also work with an employment law attorney who can guide you towards receiving all of the benefits you deserve under your state’s workers’ compensation statutes.