Louisiana Workers Compensation Attorney
A work injury can cause uncertainty for both you and your family. Not only will you be without an income for weeks, months, or longer, but you are also now dependent on your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier to pay the compensation and medical expenses that you need to get better. This article is meant to provide helpful information for those who have been injured on the job. If you feel that your workers compensation claim is not being handled right, call us at (866) 970-0977 or give us your information in the form at the bottom of this page. We are available 24/7 to help.
Workers compensation benefits are meant to provide stability following a work injury. For many injured workers, the unfortunate reality is some employers and carriers view injured workers more as a financial liability on a balance sheet instead as an employee who needs help getting back on their feet. It is important that you get the compensation and medical treatment that you need so you can get back up on your feet.
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PURPOSE OF WORKERS COMPENSATION
Workers compensation is a no-fault remedy that is supposed to kick in automatically following a job injury. In exchange for not being able to sue your employer for your injury, you get a guaranteed benefit that pays you a portion of your lost wages and medical expenses.
WHAT KIND OF INJURIES ARE COVERED?
Most all work-related injuries and illnesses are covered by workers comp. In many cases, the cause of your work injury is clear and obvious. For example, if you had an accident that resulted in a traumatic bone break or torn ligament there will be little reason to doubt that you were injured on the job.
Other cases are less clear. For example, you may have a degenerated spine that was worn down from years of work. Although you may have a valid workers’ compensation claim, proving it will likely require the assistance of medical experts to link your condition to your employment. Similarly, if you contracted a disease from toxic exposures from a job you had two decades ago, providing your claim may be more complicated.
WHAT KIND OF BENEFITS DOES WORKERS COMP PROVIDE?
Workers compensation is a limited benefit that is meant to pay you a portion of lost wages and medical expenses until you can return to work.
The Louisiana workers compensation law provides an injured worker compensation benefits of two-thirds of their average weekly wage at the time of the job accident. This amount is subject to caps that are adjusted annually. The purpose of compensation benefits is not full income replacement. Instead, it is meant to provide you with enough money to hopeful pay for your necessities while recuperating from your job injury.
There are several different categories of compensation benefits.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits: TTD is normally paid immediately after your work injury during the period of time when you cannot work at all. As the term suggests, you are temporarily unable to work. In most cases, you receive TTD benefits until you reach what is called maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that your medical condition has improved about as much as it can. When you reach MMI, your doctor will probably issue a report stating if you can return to your regular job. In more serious cases, your doctor may assign you permanent work restrictions.
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to try to get your doctor to release you to work before you are ready. If this is happening to you, you should probably speak to an attorney.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: PPD is a lump-sum amount paid after you have reached maximum medical improvement. The Louisiana workers’ compensation law has a schedule of injuries that pay out a set amount for an impacted body part. For example, you can recover up to 200 additional weeks of compensation benefits if you injured your arm. If your arm was amputated, you would receive a 100% impairment rating and be paid out as a lump-sum 200 additional weeks of benefits. However, if your arm injury is not as severe and leaves you with a 20% impairment, your lump-sum payout should only be 40 weeks of additional benefits.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits: If you work injury prevents you from returning to any job, you are considered permanently and totally disabled. PTD benefits pay you for the remainder of your life two-thirds your average weekly wage subject to cost of living adjustments.
Supplemental Earnings Benefits: SEB benefits are additional benefits paid out to an injured worker who is unable to earn 90% of their pre-injury wages. For example, if you made $1,000.00 per week at the time of your injury, and can only earn $500.00 following the injury, you may be entitled to 66% of your lost earning capacity ($333.33 per week). SEB benefits are paid for a maximum of 10 years and are often settled with a lump-sum payment.
An injured worker is entitled to reasonable and necessary medical treatment for their work-related injuries. The workers compensation carrier will not pay for preexisting medical conditions or treatments that are not medically necessary. In some claims, the workers comp carrier will refuse to approve medical treatment recommended by your physician. For example, you may be denied a surgical procedure or prescription drugs because the insurance company does not believe it is medically necessary. In many instances, the insurance carrier is refusing treatments because they want to force the injured worker to accept a lowball settlement offer. If you feel medical treatment is being wrongfully denied, you should speak with an attorney.
An injured worker is entitled to a choice of physician in each field of specialty needed to treat their work injuries. Following a work injury, an employer or carrier will often try to get you to accept medical treatment from their doctor of choice. Sometimes an insurance adjuster will try to get you to sign a choice of physician form soon after being injured. The goal with these tactics is to send you to a company doctor who is primarily concerned with keeping the employer and insurance carrier happy. These company doctors often refuse to recommend necessary tests or evaluations by qualified physicians. If this describes a situation you are dealing with, you should call an attorney soon.
SIGNS THAT YOU MAY NEED AN ATTORNEY
Not all injured workers need an attorney to navigate the workers’ compensation system. Many receive the benefits and medical treatment they need and return to work. However, many claims turn into a clear effort to prevent an injured worker from getting the help that they need. Here are a few signs that you may need to hire a lawyer:
TIPS IF YOU ARE INJURED ON THE JOB
Report Immediately: If you are injured on the job, report it to your supervisor immediately. If no action is taken by your supervisor, report it to another manager and be sure that you make your claim in writing. You have a maximum of 30 days following a job injury to report.
Select Your Own Physician: If your employer recommended a doctor for you to see, politely tell them you will get your own physician. Hundreds of injured workers have had their claims torpedoed because they went to the doctor their employer recommended.
Get Witnesses: Get the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident or injury.
Right A Statement When You Are Ready: An employer may ask you to write a statement of what happened immediately after an accident. Often an injured worker does not fully understand how the accident occurred. If you feel that you are not able to provide a complete statement, you should politely refuse and tell your employer you will provide a statement when you are ready.
One Year to File: If your benefits have been suspended or medical treatment rejected, you have one year to file a disputed claim for compensation benefits.
Hire an Attorney: If you are getting any type of resistance with your claim you probably need to consult with an attorney. Most experienced workers compensation attorneys can increase your recovery substantially.
HELPING INJURED WORKERS THROUGHOUT LOUISIANA
Our attorneys are ready to help and are available to speak with you for free about your case. If you have a workers’ compensation claim or just have questions, please call us at (866) 970-0977 or complete the information form below. We are available 24/7 to take your phone call.