An injury can mean so much more than just pain for the victim. For many, it can mean the loss of income, even perhaps the sole income a family depends on. Bills and mortgages do not go away solely because the primary breadwinner is immobilized, and therefore many may seek worker’s compensation, too alleviate the financial troubles in which they have found themselves as a result of their injury. In this article, we will attempt to answer some of the most common queries surrounding worker’s compensation. However, to best gauge your particular circumstances, contact our dedicated worker’s compensation lawyers today to see if you are eligible for any worker’s comp benefits.
Worker’s Comp: What It Pays
Regardless of circumstances, worker’s compensation only provides benefits in four distinct forms: wage loss, medical treatment, mileage reimbursement, and vocational rehabilitation. What does this mean? Well, for one, regardless if your employer has treated you unfairly or if this injury has ruined your family’s finances, you are not eligible for more compensation. It also means that pain and suffering do not constitute additional compensation.
This is a compromise reached between employers and employee unions. Essentially, the law used to state that negligence was a mandatory part of the recompense process. So a worker would need to prove their employer’s negligence in order to be compensated, which naturally led to many workers never receiving their fair compensation. More recent modifications to the state code now remove the pain and suffering damages from the table (by eliminating civil court lawsuits), while removing the need for a fault clause by the employer. As long as the benefits you are receiving are in the form of Michigan workers comp benefits, you do not need to prove your employer’s at fault.
The first type of worker’s comp benefits, wage loss, is based on a percentage of past earnings, subject to certain maximums and minimums.
The average weekly wage is calculated by averaging the highest 39 weeks’ wages of the past 52 weeks (one year) preceding the injury. Generally, wage loss benefits measure out to about eighty percent of the after-tax weekly wage. Certain fringe benefits can increase average weekly wages, though (value of medical insurance or transportation, etc.).
As long as you cannot work, you can be paid wage loss benefits (which are tax-free). However, beginning at age 65 they will be reduced by 5 percent per year, to a maximum of 50 percent reduction. Or, your employer can alternatively coordinate 50% of your total Social Security retirement benefits.
Medical treatment is another big part of worker’s compensation. Here, your employer (or its insurance carrier) will be responsible for all medical bills related to your work injury, even after you return to work (if treatment must continue). This component can include prosthetics, related travel expenses, and reasonable attendant care, and can be paid for life.
In certain instances, a close family member can be paid up to fifty-six (56) hours a week for home nursing care.
Another required expense for your employer or its insurance, this is a tricky element of worker’s compensation. On paper, vocational rehabilitation is a way to help you get retrained for another profession or find other employment. However, it can be used as a tool by employers and insurance companies wanting to pay out less.
By implying you are less disabled than you are, or by practically inventing jobs in fields you are not familiar with, insurance companies can make it so your employer needs to pay you less benefits. Widespread abuse in this realm is why you have the right to a worker’s compensation lawyer present during all vocational rehabilitation.
Lump sum payment
A final possibility in worker’s compensation is with the lump sum payment. Here, the worker gets a one-time settlement, forfeiting any future compensation related to the injury or job. This gives the worker a chance to move on with their lives, finding new employment while still having a decent safety net in the form of some additional cash on hand.
However, any lump sum payment settlements must be negotiated between the employer (and its insurance company) and the worker. This is why a Michigan worker’s comp lawyer is highly recommended.
Each and every worker’s comp case is different, and the chance of a favorable settlement will likely be determined by whether the employer’s insurance company deems future payments costly or not. Skilled worker’s comp lawyers are able to get maximal amounts of cash settlement for their clients.
The Road To Recovery After A Work Related Injury
If you think that your work-related injury may make you eligible for worker’s compensation, contact our highly-skilled attorneys today. Our legal team will consult all of the evidence on your case, to see which of the various worker’s comp options best suit your needs/merits. Call The Clark Law Office at +1 (517) 347-6900 today.