Workers who face extended recovery time after an injury at work may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. An important part of these benefits is replacing the wages an injured worker would have earned at work while they recover from an injury. Sick and injured workers who need workers' comp benefits will help their cause by learning a few things about the process before initiating the claims process.
How Much Do Injured Workers Receive
Injured workers should not expect to receive the same level of pay from workers' compensation benefits as they made while on the job. The exact amount of money injured workers will receive for compensation depends on the state in which the worker lives. But workers' compensation pays injured workers a percentage of their regular salary.
The Claims Process
Individuals hurt at work should report the injury to a supervisor as soon as it happens. Workers with injuries that demand immediate attention should travel to the nearest emergency room. Workers with less than severe injuries should schedule a visit to their doctor to get a complete diagnosis. This diagnosis will prove helpful throughout the rest of the claims process, whether the worker injury is severe or not.
Employees should make sure they receive the following items from their employer:
- Forms needed to initiate worker' comp claim with the insurance company
- Any forms needed for the workers' compensation board maintained by the state
- Information regarding employee right to compensation
- Information regarding a return to work
The specific forms needed will depend on the state in which the accident took place, the type and severity of the injury, and the insurance company. Once the injured worker completes the forms, the employer becomes responsible for sending them to the insurer.
The fate of the claim is in the hands of the insurer once they receive the paperwork. Approved claims allow the injured workers to accept a payment offer or negotiate for a larger settlement. Workers who have their compensation claim denied can file an appeal or ask the insurance company to reconsider the case.
Lost Wages for Deceased Workers
Dependents of workers who lose their lives due to an illness or injury that originates in the workplace are eligible to receive a portion of the lost wages belonging to their loved one. A spouse of the deceased worker can receive payments until they remarry. Child dependents remain eligible for weekly payments until they reach 18 years of age. The lost wages of a deceased worker who does not leave a spouse or children behind will go to another close family member. Likely candidates include a parent, grandparent, or another person who was financially dependent on the worker.
Other Workers' Compensation Benefits
Injured workers can also depend on workers' compensation benefits to pay medical expenses and offset the cost to rehabilitate an injury. Workers' comp benefits may also cover the cost to retrain an injured worker unable to perform the job duties he or she performed at the time of the illness or accident. Funeral and burial costs are also paid for by workers' comp benefits when an incident at work leads to a worker's death.
How Long Can Injured Workers Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits
Workers' compensation benefits can be temporary or permanent depending on the injury or illness responsible for the problem. Depending on the state, temporary benefits can last from three to seven years. There is no specific time limit for permanent workers' comp benefits. However, some states discontinue weekly payments once the injured worker reaches 65. It may also become important to note that some states do not allow permanent disability for partly disabled workers.