Posted in: Oct 26,2022|
In Indiana, a work injury settlement through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance covers employees who have been hurt on the job regardless of fault. Your workers’ comp settlement amount will cover medical bills and lost wages provided your injury occurs within the course and scope of your job duties, and you were not breaking the law at the time (driving drunk, for example). This post discusses some common questions around work injury settlements and how to know when you should consult an attorney for help.
What does a work injury settlement cover?
The Worker’s Compensation Act provides both wage replacement benefits as well as medical care. If you are temporarily totally disabled and unable to work, you will be entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage across the past 52 weeks, with some restrictions.
You will be entitled to receive weekly income benefits if you cannot return to work for more than seven days, with the first weekly installment being mailed out 15 days after the injury occurred.
Note: On-the-job accidents should be reported to your employer immediately as waiting more than 30 days could result in your claim being denied.
What is the most you can get from workers’ comp?
According to the National Safety Council, the total cost of work injuries in 2020 was nearly $164 billion. While the average workers’ comp settlement amount through 2019-2020 was more than $41,000 (according to National Council on Compensation Insurance data), many factors and variables can cause settlement values to differ substantially on a case-by-case basis.
A worker’s pre-injury wages and the location and severity of the injury are among the factors affecting settlement amounts. For example, a hand injury averaged more than $24,000, while head injury cases saw average settlements total more than $92,000.
For the purposes of determining an injured worker’s weekly available temporary total disability benefits, the maximum average weekly wage is $1,170, resulting in a maximum benefit amount of $780 per week.
What is the longest you can be on workers’ comp?
Workers’ compensation via temporary total disability benefits will continue for a maximum of 500 weeks, although there are a host of reasons they could be terminated before then. Benefits will continue up until returning to any work or refusing an offer for work suitable to your limitations.
Additionally, refusing to attend any medical examinations ordered by your employers can cause the end of your benefits, as will reaching what’s referred to as a point of “maximum medical improvement,” meaning your condition has improved as much as it ever will regardless of additional treatment.
Once you’ve completed treatment or reached that point of maximum improvement, the insurance company will offer a settlement based on the ongoing degree of impairment as a result of the workplace injury.
Can I sue my employer for a work-related injury claim?
You do not need to prove liability or negligence to collect workers’ compensation payments, and you can start getting paid just weeks after your injury. As a trade-off, however, you cannot sue your employer for a work-related injury—in most cases, that is. There are some exceptions to that rule.
In some rare situations, the law may find that your employer acted with gross negligence to the extent that warrants further action, or you may have a third-party claim for which you should talk to an attorney.
What is a third-party claim?
A third-party claim is another option for compensation after a workplace injury. With a third-party lawsuit, the injured person has the right to sue someone other than their employer or coworker who was responsible for their workplace injury.
For example, if you drive for a living and another driver causes a collision resulting in injury, you can sue the at-fault driver. Or, if you work in construction and a faulty piece of equipment causes injury, you can bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer or maintenance company responsible for the defect. You can file a third-party lawsuit for damages and collect workers’ compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
Can I get disability after a workers’ comp settlement?
Following a workers’ compensation settlement, you can still receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as long as the total amount received doesn’t exceed 80% of your previous average earnings. However, you cannot receive workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits concurrently, and workers’ comp will offset any Social Security benefits as you may only receive partial disability benefits from other sources.
When should I contact an attorney for a work injury?
Many aspects of navigating Indiana’s workers’ comp landscape can be complicated and overwhelming. The Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana always recommends consulting an attorney if you are considering disputing a claim, disagree with your workers’ comp settlement amount, or if you ever feel your rights under the Worker’s Compensation Act aren’t being upheld.
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