The Indiana workers’ compensation laws outline what benefits an injured worker will and will not receive for an injury at work. Generally, an injured worker will receive lost wages, called temporary total disability pay, if the worker is off work more than 7 calendar days due to a compensable work injury claim. The lost wages are paid at a rate of 66 2/3% of the workers’ average weekly wage. Those wages should continue until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement or provided a light duty work assignment, whichever occurs first. If an injured worker can never work again due to the work accident, a worker can petition the State Board for an award of permanent total disability benefits which would continue the weekly check for a period of 500 weeks and then can be extended in increments of additional 150 week periods through the Second Injury Fund. Technically, an injured worker than can never work again can receive a weekly workers’ compensation check for the rest of his or her life.
Second, the insurance carrier is required to pay “statutory medical care” or all necessary medical care as long as the medical care is ordered by the physician selected by the insurance company. There are exceptions to this rule such as a worker is free to get medical care with his or her own physician in the event of an emergency or due to “other good cause.” Generally, however, the worker must get medical care through the physician selected by the employer/insurance carrier.
An injured worker can attempt to secure an award of future medical coverage (the worker must do this prior to settling and in writing) if the worker can prove to a judge that he or she will require future medical care “to limit or reduce his or her impairment.” This is not easy to obtain.
Finally, for workers who can return to some employment (who are not permanently and totally disabled) that worker will also receive an award of a permanent partial impairment settlement if the worker has a permanent injury caused by the job. The physician assigned by the insurance company will assign a PPI and the worker has the right to secure his or her own PPI from another physician.
The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act does not pay for pain and suffering. Also, the facts of the accident do not matter to a workers’ compensation judge and do not affect the value of the case unless the accident happened due to the fault of a third party. A third party is an entity and/or individual other than the employer or co-worker. Examples of third parties could be a general contractor on a job site, another motorist in a work related auto accident, or the manufacturer of the defective machine.
Many of our clients are shocked to realize at the end of the case that the case is worth “only a little bit of money.” The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act is not good at compensating workers for their injuries and it is a rare occasion where a worker is content with the value of the settlement. For additional questions, please contact Klezmer Maudlin for a free consultation at (317) 569-9644 or (800) 809-3776.