Almost every employer in Louisiana is required to carry workers' compensation insurance to provide benefits to workers who suffer injuries on the job. Compensation may include medical expenses, lost income and permanent disabilities.
Generally, workers' compensation policies only cover injuries that occur while employees are performing work duties or running work errands. Injuries that occur while you are off-duty or commuting to work are usually not covered by workers' compensation.
Worker's compensation covers various types of workplace injuries, including traumatic injuries and diseases or illnesses that develop over time due to repetitive tasks.
Traumatic injuries are the result of a one-time accident, such as a slip and fall causing broken bones or other severe injuries. Diseases could include carpal tunnel syndrome, which can develop due to repetitive hand movements at work.
Workers' compensation may also cover diseases from exposure to toxic chemicals at work, such as mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.
What to do After a Workplace Injury
Your actions after a workplace injury could determine the success of any workers' compensation claims you make.
The most important thing is your health and safety. That is why you should obtain emergency medical treatment right away.
It is also extremely important that you tell the physician who is treating you that you were hurt at work. The fact that the injury occurred at work will be documented in the emergency room's (ER) incident report. Documentation of your injury in an incident report will make it easier to prove in court.
Unfortunately, some hospitals refuse to prepare an incident report for an injured employee. If this happens to you, send a letter to the ER via certified mail, email or fax notifying all the physicians who treated you that you were injured in a workplace accident and specifying the date, time, circumstances and injuries sustained from the accident.
You must notify your employer of your injury within 30 days to obtain workers' compensation benefits.
However, it is best to report the incident immediately because waiting will arouse suspicion from your employer's workers' compensation insurer. Also, the quicker you start the process, the quicker you can receive benefits.
When you notify your employer, they will fill out a “First Report of Injury” form and give it to the insurance company. The insurer will provide the form to the Louisiana Workforce Commission and you will be given a copy.
Benefits You Could Receive
Workers' compensation includes medical and indemnity (wage) benefits. Medical benefits include payment of medical bills arising from reasonable and necessary medical treatment, including doctor’s visits, diagnostic testing, medications and in some cases, surgery.
There are four types of indemnity payments:
- Temporary total disability benefits (TTD) - Eligible workers who are temporarily disabled can receive indemnity payments amounting to two-thirds of their average weekly income, which, depending on the date of the injury can range anywhere from $168 to $657 per week. This benefit will continue for as long as your doctor says you are unable to return to work.
- Supplemental earnings benefit (SEB) - If your doctor releases you to return to work with restrictions and you are unable to earn at least 90 percent of your pre-accident wages, you may be entitled to SEB, which is two-thirds of the difference between your pre-accident wages and the amount of money you are able to earn post-accident.
- Permanent total disability (PTD) - If your doctor determines that you will never be able to return to work due to your work injury, you may be eligible to receive PTD. These benefits continue for the reminder of your life and are the same amount per week that you were paid in TTD payments.
- Permanent partial disability payments (PPD) – These benefits are available to employees with severe injuries, such as the loss of limbs, eyes or hands. PPD payments are usually made for a specific number of weeks depending upon the part of your body that is permanently injured. Eligible workers receive the same amount per week that they would receive in TTD payments.
Unfortunately, your workers' compensation claim could be denied, even if you think it is completely legitimate. Your claim could also be approved for less benefits than you think you are entitled.
If either of these things have happened to you, contact the workers' compensation attorneys at Simien & Simien for a free legal consultation. Our injury attorneys are prepared to work tirelessly on your behalf to obtain all of the compensation you deserve for your workplace injuries.