Suffering an injury at work is already bad enough when it means having to miss out on life events to attend doctors’ appointments and stay home to heal. The workers’ compensation insurance program is supposed to ensure that people don’t suffer financial injuries on top of their physical ones, but the help doesn’t always come on time, and it’s not always enough. Read on to find out how people who have been hurt on the job can get the help they need to recover financially after an injury.
Filing Workers’ Compensation Claims
People who are hurt on the job are typically eligible for workers’ compensation, but they need to file claims and get them approved before the benefits start coming in. The first step is to seek medical attention for the injury and keep a record of who treated it and what their diagnosis was. Once stable, the worker should alert their employer before filing a claim.
Getting back on track financially requires filing a claim as soon as an injured worker is reasonably able to do so. A delay in filing can raise red flags with insurance companies regarding whether the injury really took place at work, creating unnecessary delays and even jeopardizing the claimant’s chances of getting compensated.
How Much to Expect
Workers who receive temporary total payments will get 100% of their full wages for the first 12 weeks following their injuries. After 12 weeks, the payments are reduced. Payments going forward will be calculated at 66.6% of a worker’s average weekly wage rate. All medical care related to the condition will be paid for by the program.
Lump sum settlements work a little differently. They are one-time payments made to injured workers that are meant to cover medical care and expenses, including future care, lost wages and potential future earnings, and a disability award, if applicable. Workers who want to settle their claims for one lump sum should contact a lawyer first.
When to Return to Work
Returning to work too early can impact a worker’s recovery or even cause reinjury. Injured workers shouldn’t head back to work until they are cleared by their doctors, even if they feel good. When a doctor clears an injured worker to return, they should ask about specific medical restrictions. Recovering workers may be cleared to go back to their jobs with restrictions on how many hours per day they can work or with light or modified duties.
Work restrictions can be either temporary or permanent. Either way, if the restrictions mean that workers are unable to earn the same wages they did before their injuries, they may be able to get the difference covered by workers’ compensation benefits or partial disability payments.
What to Do if Unable to Return to Work
Not all people injured on the job can return to work. Some suffer permanent disabilities that restrict their activity levels permanently. When this is the case, workers’ compensation applies only until the worker has reached maximum medical improvement. However, they should be able to receive permanent disability benefits through SSI or SSDI moving forward.
Talk to a Lawyer
Making a full financial recovery following an injury may require taking advantage of more than one set of benefits. However, it will be a stressful process without the help of a lawyer. Workers concerned about how to recuperate their financial losses should schedule consultations as soon as they’ve received medical care and notified their employers about their injuries.