Frequently Asked Questions
1. What benefits do I get if I'm hurt on the job?
Answer: While you are off work, you get two-thirds of your weekly gross pay and all medical expenses. The maximum amount changes yearly.
2. How long do I get benefits?
Answer: Until your doctor says you are done healing. If your employer cannot offer work within your temporary restrictions, benefits continue.
3. What happens if I have permanent restrictions?
Answer: If you doctor says your injury has caused permanent restrictions (like lifting, bending or standing), then you receive benefits based on the amount of disability the doctor states.
4. Can I choose my own doctor?
Answer: Yes. Your employer can only send you to its doctor in an emergency. Then you have the right to see any doctor. (In a dispute, the employer can also send you to its doctor for evaluation but not treatment. Note: Choose a doctor who specializes in your kind of injury.)
5. What if my company fires me (or won't take me back) after my injury?
Answer: If your company has a job within your permanent restrictions, the company has to offer it to you or pay a penalty equal to one year's wages. But if no jobs exist within your restrictions, the company does not have to take you back.
6. What if I get hurt so badly I can't return to my job?
Answer: If your employer cannot take you back under your doctor's permanent restrictions, you may be entitled to retraining benefits. If a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) counselor or vocational expert sets up classroom retraining, you can get paid weekly benefits, plus meal, mileage, parking, tuition, and book expenses.
7. Are benefits different if I have a limb injury versus a back or torso injury?
Answer: Yes. If you have an injury to your torso (back or neck, head or lungs) and you cannot return to your job, you may qualify for loss of earning capacity (future wage loss) benefits in addition to your permanent disability.
8. What if a work injury aggravates a prior non-work injury?
Answer: The employer takes you "as-is". You may be eligible for benefits for lost time, permanency and medical expense.
9. Can I sue my employer?
Answer: No, but you can sue some other person or company (machine manufacturer, truck driver, maintenance worker) if the person responsible for your injury is not an employee of your company.
10. What happens if the company does something unsafe?
Answer: While you could not sue your employer, your worker's compensation benefits may increase by 15%.
11. Do I lose my benefits if I'm hurt because I do something unsafe?
Answer: No, but your benefits may be reduced by 15%. If an alcohol or drug policy violation was causal to the injury, the worker's entire compensation benefits (not medical) could be denied.
12. Can I get more benefits if the injury leaves a scar?
Answer: If your injury or the surgery results in a permanent scar or limp, you may be eligible for additional benefits.
13. Can I get worker's compensation and Social Security Disability at the same time?
Answer: Yes. There is a formula that entitles you to a specific amount of money monthly.
14. If I have hearing problems, what can I do?
Answer: After retirement, if your doctor says the noisy workplace caused your hearing loss, you get benefits, including hearing aids.
15. I have a breathing problem; what should I do?
Answer: See a lung specialist. If your breathing problems were caused by work, you can get benefits, including claims for asbestosis, silicosis and lung cancer.
16. Oh, my aching back; I can't work or lift anymore.
Answer: If you have been doing heavy work for many years, or if you hurt your back in a single accident, you may claim permanency, retraining and loss of earning capacity benefits.
17. My company offers me sick pay instead of worker's comp. What should I do?
Answer: Choose worker's compensation. Sick pay covers non-work sickness, and worker's comp covers injuries. Worker's comp is not taxable and you get future protection under worker's compensation.
18. What time limits are important in reporting an injury?
Answer: You should report any injury right away. Your claim is valid for twelve (12) years from your injury (or last benefits payment). There is generally no time limit for occupational disease (lung, back injuries, joint replacements, amputations, etc.).
19. When should I get a lawyer's help?
Answer: Whenever you face these problems:
- Your doctor and the company doctor disagree.
- The insurance company asks you to give a statement.
- You cannot return to work because of your injury.
- You are asked to sign a settlement document.
- It is more than two weeks since your injury and you have no benefits.
- You are fired after your injury
20. How much are lawyer's fees?
Answer: Lawyer's fees are charged in worker's compensation only if the claim is successful. By statute, fees are 20% of the amount in dispute.