No one expects to be hurt at work. In the blink of an eye, though, something can go wrong leaving you seriously injured. The aftermath of a workplace accident can leave you reeling as you struggle to find a way to deal with your physical pain and limitations, all while you try to find a way to recoup your lost wages and pay for the medical care you need. This is no small endeavor. Many people who suffer workplace injuries find themselves completely overwhelmed by the stressor thrust upon them. As understandable as that is, the fact of the matter is that these individuals might be able to secure the workers’ compensation benefits they need to focus on their recovery while maintaining financial stability.
Understanding the benefits you can receive can be difficult, though. Essentially, the benefits you receive will be dictated by the type of injury or illness you have and its severity. As a general matter, workers’ compensation should cover all medical treatment you need as a result of your workplace injury or illness, which includes any prescription medications and surgical operations. It’s worth noting, though, that workers’ compensation will only cover treatment that is deemed reasonable. What constitutes “reasonable” medical care can be open for legal argument.
Your wages is where there can be wide variation in the overall amount of benefits you can receive.
- Temporary total disability: This means that you’ve been knocked out of work for at least seven days but are expected to recover. If this is the case, then you are entitled to up to 70% of your wages. There are limitations, though. For 2020, the maximum benefit you can receive for this type of workers’ compensation is $945 per week. The least you can receive is $252 per week. You will be reevaluated periodically to determine when you will be cleared for work or when you have reached your maximum medical improvement.
- Partial permanent disability: Here, the type of injury you suffered will determine the benefits you receive. Essentially, the specific part of your body that has been affected will be assigned a percentage of disability, which will then be utilized to determine the amount of benefits you are to receive. Again, there’s a cap on the amount of weekly benefits you can receive, $945, but the minimum is much lower at $35 per week. With this type of claim, you’ll need to be sure that you’re able to demonstrate the extent of your injury or illness and how it has affected your ability to function in the workplace.
- Total disability: The rates for these benefits are also capped at $945 per week, but since those who are deemed to be totally disabled are unlikely to return to work, their benefits can last for a much longer period of time. In fact, their benefits last for 450 weeks initially, and that time period can be extended if an injured workers shows that he or she is still unable to earn a wage at a that time. Again, if you fall into this category, it is going to be on you to show how you are disabled, and you’ll be reevaluated periodically to determine whether your disability continues to prohibit you from working. These matters can often be contentious when insurance companies claim that you’ve recovered enough to return to work, but you think otherwise.
- Death Benefits: Here, surviving dependents may receive up to 70% of the deceased worker’s wages each week, but the benefits are capped at the same $945 per week rate. In these circumstances, insurance companies are often required to pay up to $3,500 in funeral expenses, too.
As you can see, these benefits can be extremely helpful when trying to recover from a job-related injury or illness. However, insurance companies aren’t always eager to fork over money to injured workers and their families. As a result, many workers’ compensation claims are denied. To prevent that from happening to you as much as possible, it might be worth working with a legal advocate to build your claim from the ground-up, and fight for it all the way through the various appellate stages, if necessary.