How Much Is My Workers Compensation Claim Worth?
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:
There are typically four types of benefits involved in a workers’ compensation claim when an employee has been injured on the job. These include:
- Weekly financial compensation
- Payment of medical expenses
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Permanent impairment benefits
There are no benefits for pain and suffering through workers’ compensation, which are more focused on income protection laws. Thus, if the employee is unable to work, he
or she receives benefits through weekly compensation, but will not receiving anything extra for pain and suffering as would be possible in a personal injury case.
Weekly Financial Compensation Benefits
Disabled employees receive weekly compensation benefits. The length of the benefits differs from state to state, and depending on the type of benefit. Disability is classified in two different ways, 1) whether it is temporary or permanent, and 2) whether it is total or partial. Thus, an injured employee can have four different types of disability benefits (although not all states allow for permanent partial disability):
When an employee is disabled and unable to work, he or she is eligible to receive weekly financial compensation benefits for a period of time that varies by state and benefit type. A disability may be temporary or permanent and may be full or partial. This means there are four different types of benefits for disability in most states, while some states do not allow for permanent partial disability.
- Temporary Partial Disability
- Permanent Partial Disability
- Temporary Total Disability
- Permanent Total disability
Temporary Disability and Permanent Disability
If you have a temporary disability, you are expected to recover, but are still in the recovery process. If you have a permanent disability, your condition is stable, but is not expected to improve. This means that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement or MMI, which is not a full recovery, but will not improve any further.
Total Disability and Partial Disability
If you have a total disability, you can no longer work in any environment because you are fully disabled. If you have a partial disability, then you can still work in some way, even if it is in a light duty or sedentary occupation, so you are not fully disabled.
How Long Can I Receive Weekly Compensation Benefits?
The length of time that a person can receive weekly compensation benefits is different in different states, though the time frame ranges between three to seven years. When it comes to permanent disability benefits, there is usually no limit on the time frame, though they may stop at the age of 65. Some states do not provide benefits for permanent partial disability.
How Much Will Weekly Benefits Be?
The amount of your weekly benefits for total disability is going to be based on your wages prior to the injury or the average weekly wage (AWW). This refers to your earnings and overtime earnings for a number of weeks, up to the full 52 weeks in the year, divided by the specified number of weeks. For example, if you made $3200 in four weeks, this amount would be divided by four to determine your AWW of $800. Then, a particular percentage, typically 60% is applied, and you receive this portion of your former pay, in this case, $640. In many states, there is a maximum weekly benefit cap of $1000.
When it comes to partial disability benefits, things are calculated differently. The first step here is to determine your current earning capacity and then reduce your AWW by that amount. Thus, if your pre-injury AWW was $800, your current earning capacity is $400, and your state allows for 60% in total disability cases, then your partial disability rate will be 60% of the difference between $800 and $400:
.6 x ($800-$400) = .6 x $400 = $240/week
Payment of Medical Expenses
As long as all of your medical treatments are reasonable and necessary, you will be entitled to have your medical expenses paid through workers’ compensation. In many states, your transportation costs for medical treatment are also covered. There may be times where the insurer disputes whether your treatments are reasonable and necessary, and you may have to file a claim to attempt to continue having that particular treatment paid for.
If you are injured and cannot return to your original work environment, you can typically receive vocational rehabilitation to retrain you for another line of work through workers’ compensation.
Permanent Impairment Benefits
These benefits are awarded if an employee is diagnosed with a permanent physical impairment based on guidelines developed by the American Medical Association.
If you end up with a permanent physical impairment, according to the guidelines of the American Medical Association, you can receive permanent impairment benefits through workers’ compensation. Your physical impairment is considered permanent when you experience limited use or restricted motion in a part of your body. Depending on the percentage of permanent disability, you will receive a different amount of compensation.