Workers’ compensation is designed to provide efficient dispute resolution for employers and injured workers. Workers’ compensation in Indiana provides payment for lost wages, medical bills, and any rehabilitation expenses when employees are injured or become ill due to the typical activities of their job. It will also pay death benefits to the family if an employee is killed on the job.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance is mandated by each state, with varying medical and wage benefits depending on the state. It’s a type of social contract between employees and management. The management is protected from civil suits for injuries on the job by providing workers’ compensation insurance to cover lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses related to the injury. Workers’ compensation benefits have limitations and are underwritten by either insurance companies or publicly supported state funds.
All businesses with employees who do not own the business must carry workers’ compensation insurance, with a handful of exceptions. A company that fails to provide workers’ compensation insurance can face costly and severe consequences, including fines, imprisonment, and payment of any injury or illness claims out of pocket. They may also lose the right to do business in the future in that state.
What Are the Types of Benefits Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
Under workers’ compensation in Indiana, you can file for four different types of benefits, including:
- Medical coverage. All necessary medical treatments, equipment, medications, or visits are covered under the medical coverage portion of workers’ compensation. These are often paid to a specific dollar amount and include co-pays or deductibles. You may also be able to claim travel expenses if your treatment requires it. When calculating medical coverage, consider any long-term or future care you may need, such as physical therapy.
- Wage benefits. Disability benefits are calculated at a percentage of your wages and can be awarded if your injury has left you temporarily or permanently unable to return to work. How much you’re awarded depends on how severe your injuries are and how they impact your ability to return to work, plus the laws for workers’ compensation in your state.
- Vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation is designed to help injured employees return to work if they cannot complete their previous job duties. It can include career counseling, job training, and assistance in finding new employment. These expenses can be covered under workers’ compensation benefits.
- Death benefits. If an employee dies on the job, death benefits will be paid to their family, including spouse, children, or other dependents. Death benefits will typically cover the cost of a funeral and burial as well as provide a lump sum to compensate the employee’s family.
Pain and suffering are not covered under workers’ compensation coverage and require the injured worker to file a personal injury claim against the property owner, contractor, or equipment manufacturer. You cannot sue your employer. Pain and suffering include mental anguish, emotional stress, and loss of joy in activities. It can also include how the injuries have physically affected your daily life, hobbies, or work.
When Do You Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
If you become ill or are injured on the job, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but how do you know if you qualify? Typically, four criteria must be met to be eligible for workers’ compensation, including:
- You must be an employee of the company.
- Your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance.
- Your injury or illness must be work-related.
- You must meet any state deadlines for reporting the injury or illness and filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Certain employment categories, such as domestic workers, farm or agricultural, seasonal or casual, and temp agency workers, have special rules. If you’ve been injured in one of these categories, you may benefit from contacting a personal injury attorney for help with any questions you may have.
Also, independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers are not generally covered by workers’ compensation because they are not considered company employees. Sometimes employees are mislabeled as contractors to avoid paying payroll-related expenses, including workers’ compensation coverage. Ridesharing service drivers have disputed the classification of an independent contractor and claim they should be listed as employees. If you fall into one of these categories and have been injured on the job, consulting a personal injury lawyer may be to your benefit.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With Workers’ Compensation?
For the best chance at winning your case and getting the settlement you deserve, you need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. They will help shape your case from beginning to end, gathering medical evidence to prove your claim, negotiate a settlement with the workers’ compensation insurance company, or represent you at a workers’ compensation hearing. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Indiana can also advise you on third-party claims and other possible benefits.
Your workers’ compensation attorney will communicate with the workers’ compensation insurance company on your behalf to reduce the stress of your claim. They will work to gather all of the evidence needed for medical coverage or vocational rehabilitation claims. A workers’ compensation lawyer will also fight to recover your lost wages. If you cannot reach a settlement, your attorney will represent you at the workers’ compensation hearing. They will also inform you if you have the right to file a personal injury claim against a third party because their negligence contributed to your illness or injury.
When Should I Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Some workers’ compensation cases with low value that are straightforward might be handled by representing yourself. However, there are several situations where hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer could be critical, including:
- Not a lot of medical evidence to support your claim.
- High-value claim with long-term or severe injuries.
- The employer is disputing your claim.
- Unsure whether the settlement is fair and whether or not you should accept it.
- The claim has been denied, and you need to appeal the decision.
In these cases, consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney could make all the difference in the outcome of your claim.
If you or someone you love has been injured or become ill on the job, reach out to the team at Alvarez Law of Northwest Indiana and Chicago. We have the knowledge and experience to get you what you deserve. You can reach us at 219-641-3128 or via our secure online messaging service. A team member will be happy to answer any questions or get you set up with a free consultation.