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Indiana Raises Worker’s Compensation Rates for Benefits

Indiana Raises Worker’s Compensation Rates for Benefits

Finally, after years of remaining at the same level, the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board and State of Indiana increased the financial recovery rates an injured worker can claim for their casewww.in.gov/wcb/files/PPIandTTD-benefits2023_1.3_.pdf  For injuries that occur on or after July 1, 2023, an injured worker may recover more money for their PPI and TTD benefits.  The schedule used by the state increases annually over the next four years.  Understanding these rate tables can be complicated.  Since every dollar for your work injury case is precious, you should contact Goodin Abernathy for legal help.      

Worker’s Compensation Laws

Employees hurt on the job in Indiana are protected by Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation laws.  Attorney Jim Browne and Goodin Abernathy regularly help our Hispanic clients navigate the legal process to protect their rights and fight for more benefits.  This article highlights main points of the Indiana Worker’s Compensation process. 

Each state uses different laws for their worker’s compensation (“work comp”) claims.  In Indiana, a work injury is considered a civil law claim.  It does not involve criminal or immigration law issues.  Something a little different about work comp claims is an agency handles the legal process – not a court of law.  The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board is the agency that tracks and handles these cases.  You can learn more about the Board at this website https://www.in.gov/wcb/

An important part about Indiana’s work comp law is that an employer cannot defend a case based on liability or fault.  Unlike an auto accident or other typical type of injury claim, it does not matter whether an employee was negligent and did something to cause the accident.  As long as the employee was not intoxicated or intended to hurt themself, Indiana requires the employer to offer benefits.

Unfortunately, we often hear that employers threaten immigration reporting or similar problems when their employees are injured.  You should not be afraid of immigration issues.   Indiana’s work comp law allows any worker to make a claim.  Your immigration status does not affect your legal rights and does not involve notifying the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”) agency.  Hispanic workers should not be concerned about immigration problems and notify their employer or supervisor immediately if injured on the job.  Make sure to report your injury right away because waiting to do so may allow the employer to dispute responsibility.

Preliminarily, a couple legal issues we see affecting work comp claims involve whether the worker was an employee and whether the employer has insurance coverage.  Determining whether an injured worker is an employee or independent contractor can be a complicated legal question.  Since Indiana law does not require employers to offer independent contractors work comp benefits, let’s review some basic differences between employees and independent contractors. 

Signs That Show A Worker Is An Employee

  1. The worker is paid with a company check
  2. Taxes are taken out of their pay checks
  3. Worker does not work at other jobs
  4. Worker does not have her/his own business
  5. Worker uses the employer’s equipment
  6. Worker regularly visits the employer’s place of business
  7. Works the hours and schedule the employer chooses

An Independent Contractor Is Usually Identified When These Circumstances Apply

  1. The worker has her / his own company
  2. They work for various other companies
  3. They do not work for the employer full time
  4. They receive a 1099 tax form from the employer
  5. They do not have taxes withheld from their payments
  6. They use their own vehicles and equipment to perform the work

Worker’s compensation insurance coverage is an important part of the claim.  Without insurance coverage, employers usually cannot pay the benefits they owe their injured employees.  Many employers are small companies or individuals and choose not to pay for insurance.  This is an important reason why you should ask if your employer has worker’s compensation insurance.  A legal option that sometimes helps injured workers in these situations is if your employer is performing work for another company or contractor.  Typical examples of this arrangement are found in construction and staffing agency arrangements.   Indiana’s work comp law allows us to take one step up and make a claim for benefits from the general contractor or staffing agency if the primary employer does not carry insurance.

When an employee is injured on the job, Indiana law requires the employer to offer various benefits.  The first and probably most important benefit is for medical treatment.  If you visit the doctors, therapists and medical providers the employers offer, they must pay for all your costs.  You are not responsible for deductible payments.  You are not required to use your own health insurance or take FMLA time. Since your health and well-being are your primary concerns, you may seek medical treatment immediately after your work accident.  If your employer or the insurance company deny you treatment, then you should seek legal help immediately.  The attorneys at Goodin Abernathy understand the process and will explain your rights. 

When a doctor or medical expert says you cannot work due to your injuries, you may claim Temporary Total Disability (“TTD”) payments.  Indiana’s work comp law requires employers to pay two – thirds (66.66%) of your regular income while you cannot work.  These TTD payments are not reduced for income tax or other typical withholdings.  Before the payments start, the doctor must determine that you miss more than seven (7) consecutive days of work.  If you miss thirty (30) consecutive days or more, than the employer must go back and pay you for the first 7 days of work that you missed.  Sometimes, workers do not miss time off work immediately after their injury.  But later, they require surgery or start treatment that keeps them off work.  The TTD rules also apply to these subsequent periods of missed work.   

When the employer or its insurance company determine that certain benefits should finish, they are required to send you a Termination of Benefits form.  The form looks like this www.in.gov/wcb/files/Blank-38911.pdf  If you dispute that benefits should stop, it is important to respond to these within seven days of receiving the form.  If you fail to respond, then technically the employer may stop sending you the TTD benefits. 

The final type of benefits owed to an injured employee involves the Permanent Partial Impairment (“PPI”) value of your injury.  Basically, this benefit pays the employee for the future impairment they will suffer from the injury.  That is, how will the injury interfere with their work and ability to earn income in the future.  Calculating this benefit is complicated.  For instance, the doctors and work comp Board uses the AMA Guidelines for reference.  https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/ama-guides/ama-guides-evaluation-permanent-impairment-overview.  To understand it best, you should contact our Legalmente Hablando Indy team for representation.  We will examine the medical records, show you how the government calculates the benefits and describe your legal options for maximizing recovery of PPI benefits. 

Indiana law controls how attorneys charge for legal services in work comp claims.  All attorneys in the state charge the same percentages for contingency fees.  Since we charge a contingency fee, that means we collect our fees only when we win and you get paid money for your claim.  If we do not collect money, then you do not pay.  Our legal fee agreements are explained in both Spanish and English. 

If you or a loved one are injured in a workplace accident, contact the Goodin Abernathy legal team.  We handle death claims, amputations, orthopedic surgeries, electrocution, burns, explosions, head /brain injuries, spinal column fractures and broken bones.  You will find we care about our clients and patiently explain the legal process.  Count on us to aggressively represent your claim. Contact us today.

Work Related Electrocutions

Work Related Electrocutions

Each year in Indiana and across the United States, workers are severely injured or killed in workplace accidents involving electrocutions. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 134 workers across the nation were killed when they were exposed to electricity while they were working. Workers in the construction industry are especially at risk of suffering an on-the-job electricity-related injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls electrocution accidents among the construction industry’s fatal four, which are the four types of injuries that result in death each year. In addition to the risks of death from contact with electricity, electrocutions also bring risks of serious injuries.

Causes of Workplace Electrocution Injuries

Both electrical workers and non-electrical workers may suffer electricity-related injuries while working. The primary causes of electrocutions in the workplace are contacts with overhead power lines, contacts with electrical wiring and equipment and contacts with appliances and machinery. Among workers who are not employed as electrical workers, the primary cause of work-related electrocution accidents is contacting overhead power lines because of failing to stay far enough away from them; failing to protect the lines; and failing to de-energize them before working around them. Other workers may also suffer from electric shocks from using old extension cords and engaging in other unsafe workplace activities. Defective wiring in the workplace is also a leading cause of electric shocks among workers outside of the construction industry.

Work Related Electrocution Injuries

Coming into contact with electricity may cause injuries ranging from mild pain and discomfort to death. Some people who suffer from them may be left with permanent disabilities and be unable to return to their jobs. The injuries may include the following:

  • Brain injuries
  • Neurological injuries
  • Cardiac arrest or other heart problems
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Burns

When workers suffer from electrical shock, they may suffer several symptoms, including heart attacks, dizziness, unconsciousness, seizures, muscle pain, headaches or hearing loss. It is important for people who have suffered electric shocks at work to seek medical care immediately.

Workplace Electrical Hazards

In order to help prevent workplace injuries from electrical exposures, OSHA promulgates and enforces safety regulations that companies are required to follow. There are numerous hazards that may lead to electrical accidents in the workplace, including wet floors, defective wiring, overloaded circuits, downed power lines, exposed electrical parts and others. When companies violate these regulations, they place their workers at risk of suffering debilitating injuries or fatalities. No matter who was at fault in causing the accident, eligible workers may recover benefits from workers’ compensation when they have been injured on the job by electricity.

Recovering Benefits or Damages from Workplace Electrocution Accidents

Workers who suffer from electric shocks while they are on the job may file claims for benefits through their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance policies. Most employers in Indiana are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance so that workers who are injured may recover benefits for their injuries. Injured workers may recover benefits to pay for all of their related medical costs, including hospital care, medical appointments, rehabilitation, prosthetics and prescription expenses. If a worker is unable to return to work because the accident caused a disability, the worker may recover monthly benefits that pay for a percentage of his or her former income. Disability benefits through workers’ compensation may include those for partial or total and temporary or permanent disabilities.

In some cases, third parties may hold liability for workplace electrocution accidents under a theory of negligence. For example, if a worker is electrocuted by a defective piece of equipment, the parties that were involved in the chain of production may hold liability to pay damages to the injured worker or to the family members of workers who were killed. Families of workers who are killed in workplace accidents involving contacts with electricity may also recover benefits from the employers of their loved ones by filing workers’ compensation claims. The spouses of the workers may recover monthly benefits to replace a percentage of their loved ones’ incomes that were lost when they were killed in an electrical accident while working.

How an Attorney May Help

If you were injured at work in an accident involving contact with electricity, you may benefit by seeking help from an experienced attorney at Goodin Abernathy. Our attorneys may help you to recover the workers’ compensation benefits to which you should be entitled. If a third party is partly to blame for the accident, our attorneys may also file personal injury lawsuits against the third party in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. This may help you to maximize the amount of compensation that you might recover to help pay for the losses you have suffered from your electrocution accident.