Medical Care The law provides for the payment of “all reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred to treat the injury.” This can include expenses relating to surgical, dental, osteopathic, chiropractic, podiatric, physical rehabilitation, nursing, ambulance and hospital services and supplies. Transportation expenses, lost wages due to missed time for medical treatment, and expenses like the cost of crutches may be available as well.
Weekly Benefits Weekly benefits are broken down by the extent and duration of the injury. Weekly benefits include temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), permanent partial disability (PPD), and permanent total disability (PTD). Temporary Disability Weekly benefits are available when an injury causes the employee to temporarily miss work for more than three days. Benefits accrue until the employee can return to their job. Whether an employee can return to work or not is generally determined by a doctor. Temporary total disability (TTD) refers to when an employee cannot return to work at all during the time period in question. The rate for TTD is not to exceed 80% of the employee’s weekly spendable earnings. Temporary partial disability (TPD) refers to when an employee can work during the time period in question, but at a lesser paying job. The rate for TPD is 66 ⅔% of the difference between the employee’s average gross weekly earnings at the time of the injury and the actual earnings at the lesser paying job. Permanent Disability When the employee suffers an injury that results in permanent disability, either permanent partial disability (PPD) or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are available. Healing period benefits are also received by employees while recuperating from a permanent disability injury. These healing period benefits begin on the first day of disability after the injury and at a rate not to exceed 80% of the employee’s spendable weekly earnings. The healing period ends when the employee returns to work or it is medically indicated that significant improvement from the injury is not anticipated or when the employee is medically capable of returning to the same or a similar job. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits are available in addition to the healing period benefits. PPD benefits begin when the healing period ends and are available for employees whose injury results in a permanent disability but the employee is capable of gainful employment. PPD benefits depend upon the degree of permanent disability and can be broken down into two subtypes depending on the injury: Scheduled Member Disabilities and Unscheduled (Body as a Whole) Disabilities. Scheduled Member Disabilities involve certain body parts (i.e., fingers, hands, arms, etc.). Each body part is then assigned a certain value designated by a number of weeks. Second Injury Fund Benefits are available to employees who had a prior PPD to a scheduled member before sustaining the second injury. If the permanent injury doesn’t involve a scheduled member, then it may be an unscheduled (or body as a whole) disability. These benefits are calculated by using the percentage rate the injury reduced the employee’s earning capacity instead of a specified corresponding list like Scheduled Member Disability benefits. Permanent Total Disability (PTD) may be available when the employee’s injury leaves them incapable of returning to gainful employment. PTD benefits begin on the date of the injury and are payable as long as the employee remains permanently disabled. Vocational Rehabilitation benefits may be available if the employee is participating in a vocational rehabilitation program because of the injury. An employee can receive one-hundred dollars per week for participating in such a program for up to 13 weeks, or 26 weeks if approved by the workers’ compensation commissioner. Death benefits may be available to dependents of employees if death resulted from the injury. These death benefits are payable to the surviving spouse for life or until remarriage and to dependent children until age 18, or age 25 if they are still considered dependent. Because the nature of Workers’ Compensation can be a complex subject with various nuances, you should consider contacting one of our experienced attorneys to ensure your claim is properly handled. Jacob J. Peters Jordan T. Glaser