Workers’ compensation started as a grand bargain between workers and management in the early 20th century. Workers gave up their right to sue in court in exchange for no-fault, employer-paid insurance which covered economic losses.
But over the years, the system has slanted toward employers. In many cases, benefits have gone down, when accounting for inflation. Furthermore, the workers’ compensation bureaucracy has gotten much larger over these many decades. So, victims need to have an aggressive Richmond workers’ compensation attorney to get the compensation they deserve.
Substantial compensation is available, but as outlined below, the road is often long and winding. It’s important to persevere and not give up.
Since it is very important to keep your eyes on the prize during the claims process, let’s first look at the available benefits. Whether injured workers sustain a sudden trauma injury or an occupational disease which occurs over time, the lost wages benefits are:
- Temporary Total Disability: Most workplaces illnesses and injuries are TTD injuries, at least initially. These victims cannot work as they recover. So, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the average weekly wage for the duration of the disability.
- Temporary Partial Disability: TPD victims can work as they recover, but they must accept limited hours or light duty employment. Therefore, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new salaries.
- Permanent Partial Disability: If the victim permanently uses the use of a limb, organ, or other body part, workers’ compensation usually pays a lump sum depending on the nature and extent of the disability.
- Permanent Total Disability: Roughly the same thing applies in these cases.
The “Average Weekly Wage” includes more than just regular cash compensation. It also includes performance bonuses, overtime, and non-cash compensation, like expense reimbursements.
Furthermore, “disability” is not just a medical term. It is also a legal and educational term. For example, if a miner loses a leg, that miner is probably permanently disabled. But if a college professor loses a leg, that person can probably continue working.
As for medical benefits, workers’ compensation usually pays all reasonably necessary medical expenses. This category includes:
- Emergency care,
- Follow-up care,
- Physical and/or occupational therapy,
- Medical devices,
- Prescription drugs, and
- Other necessary costs.
Generally, the insurance company pays these costs directly. Injured victims never see a bill, and they are not responsible for any unpaid charges.
The Workers’ Compensation Process
Shortly after they file their claims, a workers’ compensation claims examiner, who basically works for the insurance company, reviews the worker’s file. Not surprisingly, most claims get denied, at least in part. The insurance company hoes the victim either gives up or settles for far less than the injury is worth.
The next stage is usually a trial-like hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, attorneys may introduce evidence and make legal arguments. So, job injury victims have a much better chance of obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.
Work with Dedicated Attorneys
Perseverance is a key in any workers’ compensation claim. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Richmond, contact Harbison & Kavanagh. After-hours visits are available.