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 case. www.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
- The worker is paid with a company check
- Taxes are taken out of their pay checks
- Worker does not work at other jobs
- Worker does not have her/his own business
- Worker uses the employer’s equipment
- Worker regularly visits the employer’s place of business
- Works the hours and schedule the employer chooses
An Independent Contractor Is Usually Identified When These Circumstances Apply
- The worker has her / his own company
- They work for various other companies
- They do not work for the employer full time
- They receive a 1099 tax form from the employer
- They do not have taxes withheld from their payments
- 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.