Indiana Workers’ Comp Attorney
If you have been injured on the job, Goodin Abernathy LLP’s attorneys can assist you in navigating your way through the Workers’ Compensation Act. Contact a GA workers’ compensation attorney today to schedule your free consultation.
What is Worker’s Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation (workers’ comp) is a set of laws created to make individuals (who have been involved in a workplace injury) 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. Indiana’s workers compensation board investigates and administers the workers’ compensation claim of injured workers in Indiana. The investigation of the workers’ compensation claim will look at the workplace injury, lost wages, medical expenses, and other evidence to determine workers’ compensation benefits.
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.
When receiving medical treatment, 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 workers’ compensation benefits:
• Payment of 2/3 of lost wages (average). Payment of lost wages only occurs 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 medical 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
Types of Workplace 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, the most common workplace injury was in relation to transportation. 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.
Workplace 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 does my Indiana Worker’s Compensation Claim cover?
The law’s basic goal is to supply injured workers with workers’ compensation benefits that pay for medical bills, lost wages and the permanent physical impairment a worker suffers from the injury.
The most valuable benefit offered under Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation law is access to and payment for medical treatment. This means employers must pay for doctors, hospitals, diagnostic studies, medicine, physical therapy and ambulance rides.
If you are hurt on the job, report the injury to your employer immediately. Ask for medical treatment immediately. Indiana requires that an employer manage and pay for your medical treatment to recover from the work injury. Typically this course of treatment involves a trip to the emergency room or a medical clinic for evaluation. You may then be referred to a primary care doctor, specialist or other medical provider to address your injuries. If you go to the medical providers your employer directs you to visit, then they must pay for the treatment. While you are allowed to visit your own medical provider, the employer might not pay for the visit. There are important situations when Goodin Abernathy’s Indiana workers’ compensation lawyers review these situations and counsel their clients on the best course of action to balance their legal interests with financial issues.
Indiana’s workers’ compensation law provides for lost income when you miss work due to your physical injury. This benefit is called Temporary Total Disability – or “TTD”. The idea is simple – but the law controlling this benefit is not always easy to understand. This is where Goodin Abernathy’s Indiana workers’ compensation attorneys review the evidence and support their clients for making the claims.
Employers are obligated to pay their injured employees TTD benefits if 1) under orders of a medical professional the employee 2) misses more than seven (7) consecutive days of work. When TTD benefits are owed, the employer must pay 66% of the worker’s average wage. For example, if you make $100.00 per day, then the employer must pay you $66.66 for each day you miss work (after the initial seven days). You do not owe tax on these payments – nor is the employer is not to reduce the payment for any other reasons. If you miss more than a month (30 days) in a row from work under a doctor’s orders, then the employer owes you a payment for the first seven days that you missed.
Many clients visit us with two main problems regarding TTD. First, the employer or its insurance company simply is not paying the benefit. Sometimes they drag their feet and do not look into paying the benefit. Unfortunately, this creates a huge financial burden for our client. So the Goodin Abernathy attorneys immediately notify the employer and insurance company, demanding they start making payments – and catch the employee up for missed time. Second, the employee is not sure how their TTD payments are calculated. Our attorneys review the employer’s First Report of Injury and collect your wage history to make sure they are paying a fair TTD rate. Sometimes they undercalculate your average income. Over time, as little as a $5 – $10.00 underpayment adds up. That money is precious to injured clients who are trying to maintain household costs while they’re off work.
Permanent Partial Impairment – PPI
Once an employee is finished with medical treatment, the doctors determine they are at Maximum Medical Improvement – or “MMI”. If the employee agrees with this assessment, then we examine what the law says their injury claim is worth. The PPI concept is designed to cover the financial disparity a worker faces with income earning ability over the course of their lifetime as a result of the injury.
We explain how PPI ratings work and why their values are controlled by Indiana law. Typically our clients are amazed at how low the government set these values and learn they need legal help advocating for a maximum result. For instance, if the worker makes a full recovery and has no symptoms, their doctor’s PPI opinion might be zero. This means they are not owed any PPI financial benefits. However, zero or low PPI ratings are debatable. The Goodin Abernathy workers’ compensation lawyers know how to collect evidence and competing medical opinions to challenge zero or low PPI ratings. We negotiate settlements or take our client’s claims to the Board for a more favorable decision. When you hire Goodin Abernathy to handle your claim, we lead you through each step of this strategy and legal process.
How do attorneys charge for Worker’s Compensation cases in Indiana?
The Indiana Worker’s Compensation laws structure the way attorneys charge for their services. If we must challenge and litigate for better medical or TTD benefits, then our fees, by statute, are 10% of the recovery. We collect that from the employer or its insurance company.
Indiana Statute also controls the amount attorneys charge for challenging PPI ratings and recovering those benefits. Goodin Abernathy follows that law and charges 20% of the first $50,000.00 recovered for a PPI award. If your award is greater than $50,000.00, then our fees are reduced to 15%.
When you meet with Goodin Abernathy’s Indiana workers’ compensation attorneys, we explain the fee structure in detail and give practical examples of how it works. We have a short and plainly written Fee Agreement that explains the fee structure so there are no surprises with our services. We do not pressure clients into signing the agreement. We want clients that are comfortable with our representation and trust us. So you have plenty of time and explanation to consider before making your decision to hire us.
What types of work injuries does Goodin Abernathy handle?
Our attorneys are experienced representing injured workers and their families for fatalities, amputations, serious brain injuries, back and spinal injuries, broken bones and fractures, torn ligaments, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and vision or eyesight injuries. Goodin Abernathy workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced investigating these cases and using medical experts to enhance our client’s recovery.
I was hurt on a construction site, who is responsible?
If you are hurt on a construction site, your employer is responsible for work comp benefits. But you may also make a negligence claim for more damages against a third party. For example, if the conduct or failure of the general contractor or subcontractor contributed to your injury, we investigate the potential for a Negligence Claim.
Various factors affect the success of a negligence claim in these cases. Goodin Abernathy’s workers’ compensation attorneys have taken these claims to court and are very experienced handling important evidence, like contracts and OSHA violations, that help our client’s claims. The claims are usually very technical and need the experienced attorneys we have for a solid chance at success.
Why is an insurance company involved if my employer owes the work comp benefits?
Generally, Indiana law requires employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance. So if you are hurt on the job and your employer is insured, the insurance company handles your claim. The insurance company stands in the shoes of your employer. On one hand, this is good because the insurance company has adequate money to pay your benefits. Also, it reduces the chances of a stressful relationship with your employer since you are regularly dealing with the insurance company and not your supervisor. On the other hand, it can be quite frustrating because those companies are in business to collect premiums and make money – not pay it out.
Do you charge for an initial Indiana worker’s compensation consultation?
No, our initial consultations are free. We enjoy meeting our clients in person and learning about their legal issues. While we prefer meeting with you in person, we also connect using video conferencing like Facetime, Zoom, What’s App, Webex or about any other video communication platform.
When we schedule the appointment, you will know what papers and information to bring in so we can review your case. That information, along with photos, can also be easily sent to us electronically.
Our Consultations are private. Your employer or the insurance company does not need to know that you are seeking legal counsel. The meetings usually last 30 minutes to an hour and we have flexible office hours.
We look forward to meeting and earning the chance to represent your case. You will find Goodin Abernathy cares about their clients. Check us out on Facebook, watch the videos we’ve posted about Indiana Worker’s Compensation and read our blogs. Those will give you a better understanding of who we are, why we care and how we will help you.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed while working on the job, Goodin Abernathy LLP’s workers’ compensatioin attorneys can assist you. Click here to schedule your free consultation.
Goodin Abernathy LLP: Where to turn for sound advice and solid representation. Get advice. Get GA.
Attorneys with a Focus on Workers Compensation