Once an employee is injured while on the job, he or she needs benefits now and quickly. However, depending on the injury and length of the disability, it is unclear as to how long these benefits will continue to be paid.
How long do workers’ compensation benefits last in terms of weeks, months or even years?
We have asked attorney Alaina Sullivan, about this type of situation. Here is what she had to say:
Can the Employee Work?
The insurance company is only going to want to pay for workers’ compensation benefits if the employee is no longer able to work, for however long that may be. The first determination both the employer and their insurance company is going to want to know is: can the employee work?
Is the disability temporary or permanent? Is the disability partial or total in nature?
The answers to these questions will guide the determination as to whether the benefits will be given, how much benefits will be paid and for how long.
Is Your Injury A Temporary Partial Disability?
The term “temporary partial disability” refers to when the employee is injured in a work-related accident, but that injury does allow him or her to perform some level of work, whether it be limited in nature or part-time at a lower income level than he or she received before the accident.
In some states, if an employee is determined to be temporarily partially disabled, the employer or insurance company will pay 50 percent of the difference between what the employee’s current wages were after the accident, working only part-time or at a lower pay, and the wage earned before the accident.
Every state differs in how long this can continue, and in most situations, it will be until the employee is back to being able to perform the type of work he or she was performing before the accident or injury.
Is Your Injury A Temporary Total Disability?
If the employee was injured and could not come to work at all for a period of time, he or she may be able to claim temporary total disability.
This type of disability means that the injury completely keeps the employee from earning any type of income but only for a set, brief period of time. In most states, the benefits are normally up to two-thirds of the employee’s normal wage, while some states, like Alaska, are very generous and give the employee 80 percent of his or her normal wage.
These benefits continue to run until the employee is able to return to work or until he or she has reached what is known as “maximum medical improvement" (MMI). MMI is when the injured employee has gotten to a point where the condition cannot be improved any more or when treatment has reached the best point it will reach.
Some employees will never reach the point of where they were before the accident, which is why the concept of MMI comes in.
Some states also cap how long an employee can receive temporary total disability. In Wisconsin, the cap is at 1,000 weeks, while in Texas and Minnesota, the employee can only get approximately 100 weeks of payment.
Every state varies, and a workers’ compensation attorney can advise the employee on his or her chances.
Is Your Injury A Permanent Disability?
Disabilities from work-related accidents can be permanent in nature, as well. Permanent injuries can cause partial disability, as well as total disability. For these two categories, how long the employee will receive the benefits depends on the laws of that state, as well as the nature of the injuries. Some states cap payments at different lengths of time for different types of injuries.
The employee will need to be evaluated, and the workers’ compensation insurance provider will want to have this evaluation done by a physician of the company's choosing.
While this is possible, a workers’ compensation attorney may also want to have a second opinion done by a physician not chosen by the insurance company. This determination will guide how long and how much the person will receive benefits.
It is highly recommended that, if permanent disability is being discussed, the employee seeks the advice of a workers’ compensation attorney.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been involved in an accident during the normal course of business and are unsure about how to proceed with a workers’ compensation claim, it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney to answer your questions.
A licensed attorney trained in workers’ compensation law will be able to review your case and determine your best course of action. To receive the compensation you deserve, contact an attorney in your area today.