What is Worker’s Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation (workers comp) is a set of laws created to make individuals (who have been hurt on the job) and their families whole financially. The laws found within the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act and were originally created in 1915. All employers are required in Indiana to obtain workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees. If an employer fails to obtain workers’ compensation insurance, there are still remedies for the injured worker obtaining relief directly from his employer rather than the insurance company.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an individual hurt on the job applies to the Workers’ Compensation Board for assistance. The Board investigates and administers the claims of injured workers in Indiana.
Types of Work Injuries
Per the Indiana Department of Labor, in 2012, there were 113 fatalities due to workplace injuries. The most fatalities in Indiana come from the transportation, warehousing and construction industries. The next three highest include the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry; manufacturing; and professional and business services. Of the 113 fatalities, 50% were related to transportation; 19% due to contact with objects and equipment; 13% due to falls, slips, and trips; 12% due to violence; 5% due to exposure to harmful substances or environments; and 2% due to explosion. Transportation related fatalities include motor vehicle crashes, pedestrians struck by vehicles and mobile equipment/machinery overturns.
Injuries, both fatal and non-fatal, can include amputation (arms, legs, fingers, toes); burns due to chemicals, explosions, or poorly designed machinery; neck, back injuries or spinal cord injuries due to motor vehicle accidents, crushing, lifting, or repeated motions; reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD); Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS); fractured or broken bones; brain injuries; hearing loss; partial or complete loss of sight; or any serious injury requiring surgery.
What Should I do if I have been injured at work or on the job?
You should first report the work injury to your supervisor or boss and have them prepare an accident report. This may require some insistence on your part, but a written accident report is important. After the report is created, obtain a copy and then you can determine if you want to move forward with filing a worker’s compensation claim.
If a claim is filed and your employer or its insurance company schedules doctors visits for you, it is important to attend all appointments and examinations. Keep all copies of restrictions, statements, and reports you are provided. Keep a log of all mileage for out-of-county doctor appointments. It is also important to keep track of all days that you were unable to work due to injury.
If the doctor hired by your employer or its insurance carrier releases you, but you feel you cannot work, there is the potential for asking the Workers’ Compensation Board to appoint an independent medical examination to determine whether you should have been released. If you are also unhappy with the doctor, request the employer or insurance carrier send you to a different doctor for a second opinion.
If there is any threat of or actual retaliation against you by your employer due to your injury or Workers’ Compensation Claim, the threat or realization should be reported to the Indiana Department of Labor.
Payment Under the Worker’s Compensation Act
If an injury is compensable, a person with a work-related injury is entitled to the following:
• Payment of 2/3 of lost wages (average) as long as the person is unable to work per the insurance company’s physician.
• Payment due to a permanent partial impairment rating (PPI). A PPI is determined when there is a permanent injury.
• Payment to the physicians your employer or its insurance company selected, out-of-pocket expenses, and mileage.
Workers’ Compensation Lingo
Workers’ Compensation cases have their own set of abbreviations. The following is a list of abbreviations commonly used:
• TTD – Temporary Total Disability
• PPI – Permanent Partial Impairment
• MMI – Maximum Medical Improvement
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed while working on the job, Goodin Abernathy LLP can assist you. Click here to schedule your free consultation.