If you suffered an injury at your place of work, then you probably know
that you are able to apply for workers’ compensation benefits, which
can help keep you afloat and pay for medical care related to your injury
while you take time to recover. However, you might be wondering how these
benefits are calculated and exactly what they entail. Generally, injured
workers are entitled to four different kinds of benefits, including weekly
compensation, payment of medical bills, vocational rehabilitation, and
permanent impairment benefits, if applicable.
Unlike a personal injury case, workers’ compensation laws do not
provide benefits for the pain and suffering an injured worker endures
as a result of his or her injuries. The benefits provided are designed
to compensate workers for their inability to return to their job and,
unlike personal injury law, is not a fault-based system.
Weekly Compensation Benefits
Employees who are disabled are entitled to receive weekly compensation
benefits, the length of which depends on the state and the type of benefit
that is being received. Generally, disability is classified in two ways:
whether it is permanent and whether the disability is total or partial.
Therefore, injured workers can have four different types of disability benefits:
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent total disability
- Permanent partial disability
Temporary and Permanent Disability
A temporary disability means that an employee is still in the process of
recovery and that it is expected he or she will eventually get well. On
the other hand, if an employee is permanently disabled, it means that,
of course, he or she is not expected to ever achieve a full recovery.
In some cases, it is referred to as a point of maximum medical improvement
(MMI). When an injured worker reaches MMI, it does not mean he or she
is recovered, but rather the condition is not expected to get any better.
Total and Partial Disability
Total disability means the employee can no longer be gainfully employed
since he or she is totally disabled. Partial disability means the employee
is still able to work in some capacity, though he or she likely cannot
perform the same job and might need to do light duty work instead.
How Much Are Weekly Benefits?
The amount an injured worker is able to receive in terms of weekly benefits
will depend on the disability he or she is suffering from. For total disability,
it is generally about 60% of the employee’s weekly earnings prior
to the injury. However, most states capped maximum weekly benefits at
$1,000 per week. For partial disability, benefits are calculated differently.
Since it is assumed that employees who are partially disabled are able
to work in some capacity, partial disability benefits are calculated by
reducing the employee’s average weekly wages by his or her earning capacity.
An injured worker must be diagnosed with a permanent physical impairment
based on guidelines provided by the American Medical Association (AMA)
in order for benefits to be awarded. Typically, a permanent impairment
involves the limitation of a body party’s movement or restriction
of motion. If you were to injure your hand and now have a permanent loss
of strength and flexibility in that hand, a doctor might conclude that
you have a 20% impairment of that hand, according to the AMA guidelines.
If total loss of the use of that hand were to result in $100,000, then
the 20% loss of use might be worth $20,000.
Payment of Medical Treatment
Injured employees are entitled to have all of their reasonable and necessary
medical treatments paid for. This can sometimes give rise to disputes
if the insurer believes that an employee’s treatment has gone on
for too long or that the treatment is generally not accepted or considered
necessary by the medical community for a certain type of injury. In this
case, the employee would need to file a claim with the state workers’
compensation agency to get the treatment paid for.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Cobb County
If you were injured while on the job, you might be entitled to
workers’ compensation benefits and will need an attorney on your side to help you navigate this
often complex process. At Chestnut & Beller in Cobb County, our team
of workers’ compensation attorneys is dedicated to fighting on behalf
of injured workers to ensure they are able to obtain the benefits they
need and deserve during this difficult time.
Get started on your workers’ compensation case today and
reach out to our law firm at (770) 285-5542 to request a free initial case evaluation
with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.