When an employee suffers a work injury, they are hurt both physically and financially. As a law firm handling these types of cases on a regular basis, we understand the difficulty that families are placed in when someone is injured and cannot work. Most clients we see never anticipate suffering a work injury, and that’s normal – that’s why they are accidents. This means that our clients are often unprepared to face the change in income that happens when they are out of work and often have many questions about how and when they will be paid through workers’ compensation.
In this blog post, we hope that we will explain some of the basic concepts that affect payment for a workers’ compensation claim. However, it can be very difficult to estimate the exact amount or time frame of payment without knowing the specific details of your case. For a more in-depth discussion of these issues, either visit our pages about workers compensation payment or call any time to speak with myself or our knowledgeable staff.
The first important concept to understand in workers’ compensation benefit terms is the weekly rate. The weekly rate is the percentage of your average wages that you are able to recover through your workers’ compensation claim. In Nebraska, the rate for workers’ compensation is 66% of your average weekly wage. The average weekly wage is typically calculated based upon earnings from the 26 weeks prior to the date of the incident. However there are several circumstances that affect the average weekly wage. For example unusually low weeks may be dropped from the calculations. Other workers such as seasonal employees will use a different calculation altogether.
Our office can provide you with additional information regarding your particular average weekly wage to determine if your employer is properly paying benefits.
Types of Disability: Partial and Total vs. Permanent and Temporary
An important concept in the assessment of the value of a workers’ compensation claim is the idea of total disability or partial disability. Total disability generally means that you are unable to work due to your injury. Partial disability means that you are unable to work at the same capacity as you were prior to your injury (for example, you can return to work but have to do light duty or desk work instead of your previous position or limited hours per day). When you are totally disabled, you can recover 66% of your average wages. When you are partially disabled, however, you can recover the difference between what you are making on light duty or part-time and 66% of your average wage.
Total and partial disability are not to be confused with temporary and permanent disability. These phrases are used to describe how long you will suffer from your disability, whereas partial and total are used to describe the severity. You can be permanently partially disabled, or you can be temporarily totally disabled, or any combination thereof.
Settlements and Treatment
Insurance companies often try to convince you to lump sum settle your case because it saves them money. You should never settle your case without consulting an attorney.. When you lump-sum settle your claim, you waive your right to payment for future medical expenses, future indemnity payments and possible vocational rehabilitation benefits. Unless you know what future medical treatment you need, it is difficult to know if that is a good deal. An attorney can help you make these important decisions and ensure that the insurance company does not take advantage of your financial situation and encourage you to sign away your right to future benefits.