Workers’ Compensation — Have You Been Injured on the Job?

Many people believe that if you are hurt on the job, and if your employer refuses to pay for your injuries that you are out of luck, and out of options.  This is not true.  In fact, many workers who have legitimate workers’ compensation claims struggle financially while wondering how they are going to afford to pay their bills and feed their families.

According to Indiana law, a worker is entitled to recover from:

Any injury that occurs by accident, arising in the course of, and in the scope of, his or her employment.”

Basically, the workers’ compensation system is a compromise between employers and employees.  For employees, the system provides a much more efficient remedy than the traditional tort (personal injury) system.  The workers’ compensation system is designed to establish a baseline of support immediately  for the injured worker while the worker recovers and during the time the worker  is unable to work.  In addition, the system provides that the employer (or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier) must pay for all medical expenses reasonably necessary for treatment of the condition.  A typical personal injury case takes between two (2) and five (5) years to reach a resolution, while the worker is left without funds to support him or herself and is unable to work.

For employers, this eliminates the excessive awards that juries are infamous for sometimes awarding to plaintiffs.  In personal injury cases, plaintiffs are not limited to recovering for the actual injury they suffer, but are also sometimes entitled to recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and punitive damages.  In workers’ compensation on the other hand, injured workers are only entitled to recover for the actual economic losses that they suffer that are directly related to the injury.  The award is not based upon the what the employer did or failed to do that caused the injury.  It is a no-fault system, where if the criteria are met, the employer is automatically liable for the injury that took place.  Except in certain limited circumstances, an employee cannot sue his or her employer for an injury that occurred on the job.

First of all, in order to be entitled to compensation, the injury must arise out of an employer-employee relationship.  Independent contractors are not covered under the workers’ compensation system.  This means that independent contractors may sue the parent company for negligence instead of being awarded compensation through the workers’ compensation system.  However, the determination as to whether you are an independent contractor or an employee is sometimes a highly complex legal determination.  If you are unsure whether you are an independent contractor or an employee, please consult a licensed Indiana lawyer immediately.

If the worker is found to have been an employee, and if the injury occurred within the scope and course of his or her employment, the worker will be entitled to several types of compensation.  The first kind of compensation is called, “Temporary Total Disability” or TTD.  In Indiana, this calculation is relatively simple: two thirds (2/3) of the worker’s average earnings over the past three (3) months.  For example, if a worker earns (over the most recent three (3) months) an average of three hundred dollars ($300) per week, he or she would be entitled to two hundred dollars ($200) compensation per week while he or she is unable to work and while he or she is recovering from the injury.  Assuming at some point that the worker is able to fully recover and resume his or her full duties, the compensation ends there.  If, however, the injured worker does not fully recover and cannot perform the full duties of his or her original job, the injured worker will be entitled to other compensation, known as “Permanent Partial Impairment” or PPI.

In addition to receiving compensation for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) a worker may be entitled to Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) based upon the loss or limited use of a particular body part.  PPI begins upon reaching “Maximum Medical Recovery” or MMR.  MMR occurs when the injured worker has received any and all necessary and reasonable medical treatment, and has reached a point that his or her condition will no longer continue to medically improve.  At this point, the worker will be entitled to a lump sum payout based upon his or her reduced capacity to work, and is based upon a highly complex formula that depends on the type of injury and the body part(s) involved.

If you have been injured on the job and have not received compensation for your injury, the experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at SFT Lawyers can help!  CALL FOR A FREE CONSULTATION TODAY!  (219) 841-5683.