Workers’ compensation disability benefits are designed to assist employees that have been injured while at work. The time following a work-related injury can be extremely stressful for you and your family.
Lost wages, medical bills, and a painful recovery are all challenges that you could face. Fortunately, workers’ compensation exists to alleviate these challenges. Still, most people do not have a full understanding of the different compensation benefits that may be available to them following a workplace injury.
The following article will highlight some of the common workers’ compensation benefits that you may qualify for.
Remember, a workers’ compensation attorney can assist you through the workers’ comp application process every step of the way. If you have any more questions or would like to speak with an experienced California workers compensation lawyer, be sure to contact Gold Country Workers Comp Center for help.
There Are Two Types of Injuries:
California law recognizes two types of industrial injuries and provides the same Workers’ Compensation benefits for either type of injury. One injury type is a specific injury, like I fell off a ladder or hurt my back lifting something heavy. California law also recognizes injuries caused by repetitive or cumulative trauma to any bodily part or system, or due to cumulative longer term exposure to something that causes injury plus a need for medical care or medical need for time off of work. Both injuries require action to avoid a problem with the statute of limitations which is the deadline by which time you must formally file paperwork or be forever barred from ever claiming compensation due to your work related injury.
Available Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits
There are four main benefits available to employees who have been injured at work. Each benefit is designed to assist you through the process of recovering while you are unable to work. These four available benefits are:
- Payment for medical treatment tied to the work-related injury, which includes mileage reimbursement or provided transportation to and from doctors’ office visits, the pharmacy, therapies and evaluations, including parking, bridge tolls, and even hotel and meals if necessary;
- Weekly total or partial Temporary Disability checks;
- Potential opportunities for vocational retraining and education; and
- Compensation for permanent loss of function and/or scarring from injuries, better said as partial (or total) permanent disability checks
Partial or Total “Temporary” Disability Benefits — Partial or Total “Permanent” Disability Benefits
For most employees who have been injured at work, there will come a time when they will return to work. Whether you continue working for your old employer or a new one, your Temporary disability benefits will cease once you return to work OR are deemed medically to have achieved “Maximum Medical Improvement” (MMI) OR receive 104 weeks of payments. Do not refuse modified work unless the demands exceed the work restrictions your doctor imposes.
You may, however, qualify for partial disability benefits if the injury sustained at work prevents you from earning as much money as you were prior to the injury. These TD or partial TD payments are calculated at 2/3 of your wage loss compared to average pre-injury weekly wages, with a legal maximum and minimum weekly payment. Seasonal workers are not paid anything during their off season unless they can prove they would have worked off season absent the injury.
Once you achieve MMI status, Partial or Total Permanent Disability payments should be made. These are checks paid weekly for a certain number of weeks. The number of payments depends on the rating percentage a specialized evaluating doctor reports using the points as scheduled in the AMA Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment 5th Ed. this is a 600 page book of charts, graphs, tables and text about how disability points are to be assigned. Pain and suffering usually do not count for much. The impact on your ability to work is not counted at all. If you are rated at 70% or more, after payment of the PD payments, you will also receive a lesser weekly check for life. If you are found to be 100% disabled because of the work injury, you will be paid or TD rate for life.
Benefits After Returning To Work
One of the most common questions employees have is whether they can return to work and still receive their workers’ compensation benefits. Although some benefits may be terminated after you return to work, there are others that you are still entitled to receive. If you RTW making less than before, you still may receive all benefits.
This is because you do not need to be totally disabled to still need compensation for wage loss and you may require ongoing medical treatment. You may also have a permanent impairment that entitles you to workers’ compensation disability benefits.
Following a Lump Sum Settlement
In some cases, injured employees may enter into a settlement agreement that is often referred to as a lump sum settlement or “Compromise and Release.” If you enter into this type of settlement, you will no longer be entitled to receive any further disability benefits.
You would also not receive compensation for the permanent loss of function and scarring. Some settlements (depending on the language of the settlement) may allow you to have some of your medical treatment paid.
Your medical treatment could still be paid by the workers’ compensation disability insurance company and you may even receive vocational retraining or education.
As mentioned above, a California workers’ compensation attorney can assist you and ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. EARLY INTERVENTION WORKS!