Nebraska Workers’ Compensation law allows for payments to you if you suffer a whole body injury (typically to the spine or head). The disability payments are based upon how the injuries affect your loss of earning power. This is different than the above scheduled member where the Court only considers the impairment rating.
Factors considered in determining loss of earning power are: (1) eligibility to procure employment generally; (2) ability to hold a job obtained: (3) capacity to perform the tasks of the work; and (4) ability of the plaintiff to earn wages in the employment in which she is engaged or for which she is fitted. See Sidel v. Travelers Ins. Co. 205 Neb. 541 (1980).
The typical method for determining a loss of earning power is to appoint a vocational counselor to perform the evaluation. The first step in the development of a plan is the selection of a vocational counselor. Sometimes an employer will not agree with starting this process or with the selection of a particular counselor. It is then necessary to contact the Workers’ Compensation Court and file a request for the appointment of a counselor. The counselor fees for the report are paid by the employer/insurer.
Once the loss of earning power is established (example would be a percentage of loss such as 30%) and the injuries are partial, disability payments are paid based upon the 66% of the average weekly wage (subject to the maximum rate) times the loss of earning power times 300 weeks – less any weeks of temporary total disability payments already made.
Example: Employee suffers a back injury that results in permanent work restrictions of no lifting over 25 pounds. A vocational counselor determines that the restrictions results in a 40% loss of earning power. The employee missed 10 weeks of work and was paid temporary total disability for the 10 weeks. The employee’s average weekly wage is $950.00. Calculation: $950.00 x 66% = $633.33 (weekly rate). $633.33 x 40% = $253.33 payment per week for 290 weeks (300 minus 10 weeks already paid). Total amount paid out over the 290 weeks is $73,465.70.
Once again, it is your duty to prove that you have sustained a loss of earning power. The insurance company is under no obligation to help you make this determination. In fact, insurance companies frequently obstruct injured employee from determining the true nature of your injuries. Several methods include refusing to authorize medical treatment or demanding the use of a company doctor for treatment can have a big effect on the amount of money you might receive.
Insurance companies can easily deny or underpay claims for permanent injuries if you don’t have a workers’ compensation attorney. You should talk to a personal injury attorney to properly evaluate a workers’ compensation claim. Putnam Law in Omaha, Nebraska has years of experience in dealing with these issues and making sure that you receive the maximum benefits under the Nebraska law.