Workers' compensation benefits are a type of insurance that covered employees can use to obtain financial, medical, and vocational support after being sidelined by an on-the-job injury or a work-related illness.
Most people aren't entirely aware of the different benefits they can obtain through worker's comp until they need them — and they can't exactly count on their employer's insurer to offer the information up very freely. Here are the benefits you need to know about:
Workers' comp will cover the cost of your medical care for work-related conditions, even if you don't take any substantial time off. This includes:
- Doctors' visits
- Hospital care
- Diagnostic tests
- Specialist's opinions
- Physical therapy
- Surgical procedures
- Nursing care
- Durable medical equipment
Unfortunately, attempts to control the costs of these treatments have resulted in a convoluted system that is often controlled by medical care management or a pharmacy benefit manager who exists to cut insurance company expenses and push the worker back on the job as soon as possible. In many cases, injured workers have to hire a workers' compensation lawyer just to retain their rightful access to medical treatment that would otherwise be denied.
The type of wage replacement an injured worker qualifies for depends largely on the extent of his or her injuries. They include:
- Temporary total disability benefits: These are usually paid out immediately after an injury that is incapacitating. It generally lasts until the worker can return to some form of employment, even light duty.
- Temporary partial disability benefits: These are paid to workers who have gone back to work but aren't able to earn as much as they were before their injury because of their limitations. As they progress (typically from part-time work or light-duty jobs back to full productivity) the benefits stop.
- Permanent partial disability benefits: Sometimes a worker is left with a permanent injury, like a missing digit or a bad scar. They're due some compensation for the injury even though they ultimately return to work despite it.
- Permanent total disability benefits: Reserved for the worst of injuries, these benefits are only awarded when a worker is unable to return to gainful employment due to his or her condition.
Retraining, to allow an injured worker to find another profession, is a vital part of workers' comp. Someone with a back injury might never return to factory work, but could successfully learn medical coding and start a new career — but only if they're given the benefits they're due.
Insurance companies like to cut costs. They don't like to offer information that will encourage injured workers to make full use of their benefits. If you feel like you aren't being treated fairly by an insurance company after your workplace injury, talk to a workers' compensation attorney from a company like The Law Offices of Oliver C. Minott.