Injured workers should receive compensation for their medical care and lost wages. Different types of compensation are available depending on the severity of the workplace injury, the cost of rehabilitation, where the injured worker can get the necessary treatments and the long-term consequences of their injuries.
When injured employees reach their Medical Maximum Improvement (MMI), or they physically recover as much as possible, they may begin receiving impairment benefits. This type of compensation is only available when a patient simply can’t make a full recovery, which is common if the injury resulted in the loss of a limb or a permanent disability.
In that case, an authorized doctor will recommend that the worker be placed on MMI status. The doctor must diagnose the patient according to Florida’s Guide to Permanent Impairment.
The impairment benefits will be paid in increments when the status is determined. Payment amounts are based on the employee’s compensation rate and the impairment total that the authorized physician believes the injured employee has suffered.
Temporary disability is awarded based on wages received within the 13 weeks before the injury. This benefit pays about 66 percent of the average weekly pay. It is helpful to include all income, including tips or bonuses, as this affects the total that the insurance company pays. Previous paystubs or a statement of earned income must be submitted with a Wage Statement.
If the injuries are so severe that the employee will never be able to work again, they may be eligible for permanent disability benefits. Approval is dependent on whether an authorized physician diagnosed the employee. The doctor will assess the employee’s age, employment history, educational background and severity of the injury. Permanent disability benefits are paid until the individual reaches the age of 75.
Death benefits are issued if an individual’s death occurs while on the job. These benefits are paid to the employee’s spouse or dependent child until they reach the age of eighteen. (If the child attends college, payments continue until they are 21 years old.) The amount is dependent on the employee’s weekly salary, with the maximum benefit being $150,000.
If you have lost a member of your family in a work-related accident, consider speaking with a workers’ compensation attorney.
If the injured employee has a second job, they may be awarded concurrent employment benefits. The individual must pay taxes on the second income and there must be workers’ compensation insurance at the second workplace. The total amount is known as the “compensation rate” and is based on the weekly wage average of all employment. An injured employee may be able to receive up to 66 percent of their previous total compensation.
There can also be reimbursement for mileage expenses incurred from driving to and from doctor appointments to receive treatment for the work injury. All mileage must be logged and disclosed on a mileage claim form.
Required details include the date of the doctor’s visits, the actual address of the physician’s office, the mileage from where your travel started to the doctor’s office and the total number of miles traveled back home. If a vehicle is not available for transportation, the employer’s insurance company may be obligated to provide transportation.
There may be additional costs related to home modifications to accommodate the injured individual. (Wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, non-slip flooring, modified shelves and counters, grip bars, etc.) This may also include specialized transportation costs. An authorized doctor’s assessment is required and must include a statement that expresses a need for home modifications.
There are some instances where severe injuries require professional in-home care. These benefits may also be used to compensate a friend or family member for their assistance. Approval of an authorized doctor is required and must include a prescription for attendant care before the service takes place.
Workers’ comp cases can be especially difficult for plaintiffs. Employers and their insurance providers could potentially be forced to pay these benefits for years after the workplace accident. In addition to paying benefits, employers are also losing the labor the injured worker used to provide. Workers with high-value claims represent a significant financial risk, which is why employers and their insurance companies frequently fight these claims.
Workers’ comp lawyers have dedicated their careers to making sure injured workers receive the compensation they’re legally owed.