An experienced Indiana Workers’ Compensation Lawyer or Work Comp Attorney can be an extremely valuable asset when an individual suffers serious injury or death while in the course of their employment. The body of law frequently referred to as Work Comp or Workers’ Compensation can be complex and difficult to navigate for the average worker trying to deal with these issues alone.
What Indianapolis Work Comp Lawyer can do for You
A skilled work injury lawyer can ease this difficulty and maximize an injured employee’s recovery under their respective state law. The Workers Compensation Lawyers of Crossen Kooi Law work diligently on behalf of injured workers and their families and have extensive experience in handling these claims. Whether you are injured on the job, on the road or at the hands of another company’s worker, the lawyers of Crossen Kooi are here to help. The following is a brief outline of what an injured employee may face should their injury occur while at work.
Indiana’s worker’s compensation statutes are intended to provide efficient and effective resolution for employers and their workers when disputes arise related to an employee’s on-the-job injury. The work comp system is a no-fault body of law intended to resolve disputes through the administration of formal and informal settlements and claims. The processing of work-related injuries and their associated claims are the primary purpose of the a State’s Worker’s Compensation Board; however, workers’ compensation statutes are also charged with the duty to collect and analyze statistical information concerning injuries the are sustained in the workplace and publish those findings to the public.
When a worker in the state of Indiana is hurt on the job, there employers are obligated to file a first report of injury and report the incident to the State’s Worker Compensation Board. Following this report, your employer is obligated to investigate your claim and determine whether your claim is compensable. As a general rule, a claim is compensable in Indiana if the worker was injured in the course of and within the scope of their employment. These particular issues can be difficult to determine; however, the Indianapolis Workers Compensation Attorneys of Crossen Kooi Law are here to help.
Typical Workers’ Compensation benefits may include the following:
- Weekly temporary total disability (TTD) payments while an employee is off of work;
- Medical care and treatment at the expense or the employer or their insurer. Typically, this treatment is directed by the employer;
- A lump sum settlement or permanent partial impairment (PPI) award if the incident results in permanent injury.
An example of permanent injuries that may result in a PPI lump sum award may be:
- Back or spinal injuries;
- Amputation of toes, fingers, or limbs;
- Loss of vision or a reduction in eye sight;
- Crush injuries to finger, toes, hands or feet;
- Brain injuries causal mental or physical impairment;
- Neck or cervical injuries;
- Hearing impairment or hearing loss;
- Fire or chemical burns; and
- Any injury that causes sustained impairment or loss of function to any part of the body.
In most states, employers are mandated to hold a worker’s compensation insurance policy to cover such claims. Specifically, in the sister states of Indiana and Illinois, most employers are required to carry insurance for their employees who are injured while in the course and scope of their employment. The legislation enacted by each state which requires this insurance is often referred to as “Workers’ Compensation”. Workers’ compensation or “work comp” is a term used to reference the body of law that handles an injury that is sustained while one is in the course and scope of their employment. In most cases, work comp laws require the employer, through their insurer self-insurance plan, to pay any medical bills related to the injuries sustained, a portion of the employee’s lost wages, and in some cases, a disability impairment rating that will pay a scheduled compensation amount if an employee’s injury renders them permanently and partially or wholly impaired. Additionally, depending on the facts and injury, an employer may also have to cover future medical expenses including pharmaceuticals.
Workers’ compensation laws in Illinois and Indiana are very particular in how and when an application for adjustment of claim (a Complaint) must be filed. Because of this, it is essential that individuals who have sustained an on-the-job injury consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. A competent and experienced work comp attorney can efficiently and effectively analyze the facts of a particular case and apply the work comp laws to the claim’s specific facts. By taking such measures, both the employee and their counsel can ensure that they will meet all legal requirements necessary to obtain the maximum compensation for the injury sustained.
The advantage of filing a claim under a state’s workers’ compensation laws is that the injured party need not prove anyone else was at fault or that an employee was negligent. Thus, even if the injured party caused the accident, compensation may be available if the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment. While there are some exceptions to this (such as horseplay or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs), in most cases, fault is of no matter to the liability of the work comp carrier and/or employee.
In cases where an employee is hurt on the job but at the hands of a third party or an individual employed by another employer (such as construction sites or auto accidents), it is possible to file both a worker’s compensation claim and a non-worker’s compensation personal injury claim simultaneously. These situations are very fact sensitive and again, require the analysis of a competent and experienced attorney. All too often, our firm has found that clients can extinguish their rights to pursue a third party claim where it is assumed the work comp carrier would take care of their claim. Unfortunately, in most cases, the workers’ compensation insurer will not advise the employee of their right to pursue additional compensation.
There are many examples where third party claims may be available to an employee; however, one our firm sees frequently is that of the construction worker. On most construction job work sites there are general contractors and subcontractors. Most employees fall under the employment of one or more of the subcontractors. While the Indiana Work Comp statutes may preclude a direct claim against another employee, this does not generally include a preclusion against an employee or supervisor of another subcontractor or the general contractor. Thus, should an employee’s injury arise from the fault of an employee of the general contractor or another subcontractor, there may be potential for a third party direct action claim against them. These claims are generally more beneficial for an employee as they provide for such things as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life; whereas, a work comp claim may not.
Again, all of these issues are very fact and time sensitive; thus, it is imperative that an attorney with work comp experience evaluate your specific facts.
Injuries Covered by the Indiana Work Comp Act
Most injuries that occur in the course and scope of an Indiana employee’s work are covered by the Act. These may include injury to the person or death. As a practical matter, the cause of the accident rarely effects the compensability of a claim. Whether by accident or negligence, injuries or personal injuries in the workplace are generally covered. While there are exceptions to this (intoxication, horseplay, deliberate indifference to a posted work rule), most issues that arise between an employee and their employer generally tend to involve the extent of the injury or Permanent Partial Impairment rating (PPI).
In our firm’s experience with liability issues, there are some common areas where employers attempt to escape culpability. While this list is not all-inclusive, it includes:
- Intentional actions by employees in supervisory roles
- Intentional actions or horseplay that was not initiated by the injured worker
- Repetitive Motion injuries
- Injuries that occur on the premises of the employer (parking lots, entrances and exits)
- Injuries that occur when taking breaks or lunch on the employer’s premises
- Congenital injuries such as heart attacks or psychological injures
Benefits provided by the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act
If liability is established and your claim is deemed to be statutorily compensable, the benefits you may be entitled to include medical care, temporary or permanent total disability payments, and in the case of loss of life, statutory dependents are entitled to death benefits. Medical care includes payment of medical expenses reasonably related to the injury. In Indiana, the employer directs medical care; thus, the employer decides where you obtain medical care and when you must go (provided the care is reasonable).
Under the current Act and for an injury occurring today, an injured employee would be entitled to TTD payments for a statutory maximum of 500 weeks. The TTD payment amount is equal to two-thirds of your AWW (average weekly wage). TTD benefits begin if you are unable to work for 8 days. If you are still unable to work 22 consecutive days following your initial date of injury, you may be entitled to reimbursement of the first 8 days as well .
Benefits of hiring a qualified and experienced Indiana Work Comp Lawyer
Employers are required by statute to be represented by an attorney at a Hearing on the merits of a claim. Given this requirement, most insurers hire counsel as soon as the claim is filed so as to begin preparing their defense for Hearing. Given a defense attorney’s involvement in the case, it can be greatly prejudicial to an employee to proceed to Hearing without representation. Defense attorneys are well-versed in work comp laws and have the knowledge to take advantage of an employee seeking to represent themselves before the Board. The converse is also true. An Indiana work comp attorney retained by an employee can assist greatly in presenting the facts and evidence and take full advantage of the statutory protections that have been established for the benefit of the employee.
Please contact a Indiana Workers Compensation Lawyer for a FREE consultation so that we can discuss and review your case in greater detail.