How Much Is My Workers Compensation Claim Worth?
By Chris Dixon
Being injured on the job can greatly impact your financial situation and quality of life. Injured workers often wonder how much their workers compensation claims are worth, or how to maximize weekly payouts from their employers. In this section of the FAQ, the St. Louis workers compensation lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm provide answers to these pressing questions.
What Are Weekly Compensation Benefits?
Weekly benefits depend on a number of factors. First-off, not every company offers disability. Some states require employers to do so, but some do not. If a company is private, for example, that company may offer it’s employees a short-term disability policy for employees that have been in work-related accidents. There are two types of disability benefits that vary based on plans and state laws.
- Temporary and Permanent Disability: “Temporary” refers to an injured employee that is in recovery and expects to get better. Permanent disability, then, is when they reach MMI (the point of Maximum Medical Improvement) and aren’t expected to improve.
- Total and Partial Disability: Partial disability hinders an employee to the point where he or she is unable to perform day-to-day work. Often, an employer can change the employee’s role to better fit their abilities. Total disability is when an employee is no longer able to perform any sort of work.
Usually, the amount an injured employee can receive per week is equal to 60 percent of their base/pre-injury average wage. Certain states cap weekly disability benefits no matter how high an employee’s AWW (average weekly wage) is.
For example, John makes $1,000 a week and suffers an injury. He is partially disabled. Given his AWW, the employer may be obligated to pay at least $600 per week while John is on disability.
If the disability is permanent, such as a crippling back injury, John can go to a doctor and, following the American Medical Association Impairment Guidelines, is given a rating based on the level of permanent impairment. If the state’s laws say $100,000 is what a loss of hand function is worth, and John’s doctor says he suffered 40 percent loss after the work injury, John would be eligible for $40,000.
Do Employers Pay for Medical Treatment?
If you’re injured on the job, you have the right to request reimbursement for reasonable and necessary medical treatment. There are limits to reimbursement, however, and an insurer may decide that you’re treatment has lasted several months more than expected and you haven’t shown signs of improvement. Also, an insurer may hesitate to pay out for seemingly unrelated treatment (such as visits to the chiropractor for a hand issue or expensive prescription drugs).
If an insurer refuses to pay for treatment, or withholds payment, it’s important to reach out to a workers compensation lawyer, bring it up to your human resources department, or reach out to the state’s workers comp agency. “Reasonable” treatment usually includes transportation costs for victims traveling to and from appointments.
Employers may also offer what is known as vocational rehabilitation, or job retraining if an injured employee is unable to continue their former duties after a temporary or permanent injury.
The majority of the time, when employees are undergoing treatment for a workplace injury, a workers comp lawyer can be the difference between a smooth and easy victory and an expensive, time-consuming loss.
What to Expect from a Workers Compensation Claim
Most states don’t allow workers comp victims to claim non-economic damages. These include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium
- Loss of Enjoyment of LIfe
- Emotional Distress
Workers comp claims are meant to reimburse injured workers, but only for the injury that occurred on the job and because of the job. If you want more information about St. Louis workers compensation claims, contact the Dixon Injury Firm today for a free consultation.