Workers' compensation is an important safety net for injured workers who have to miss time away from work due to a work-related injury or illness. Without it, injured workers may be left with no source of income as they heal and recover. Workers' compensation ensures that employees who are hurt while on the job can receive financial assistance during their time away. But how long will it last?
When Do Workers' Compensation Benefits Begin?
Workers' compensation benefits typically start once an employee has been off work for three consecutive days due to an injury or illness. This includes time away from work for doctor appointments and any other medical care related to the injury or illness. Once this period has begun, workers' compensation benefits will be paid out until the employee is able to return to work.
How Long Can I Receive Benefits?
The length of time during which an employee is eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits will vary from state to state. In Florida, benefits can be paid until a worker has fully healed and can return to work or, in some cases, until a worker turns 75 years old. During this time, the employee should not be working (or restricted to light duty) and must provide documentation that he or she is still receiving medical treatment for their injury or illness.
Medical benefits under workers' compensation are typically paid out until the employee has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that the employee's condition is not expected to improve any further with treatment or that they have reached a point where their condition will not worsen with time. Medical treatment provided through your employer may include:
- An authorized primary care physician or specialist
- Medical treatment related to your injury
- Medical tests
- Prescription costs
- Physical therapy
- Mileage reimbursement for medical treatment
It is extremely important that you attend every medical appointment, as skipping even one could very likely cause your benefits to be terminated.
Disability Benefits (Lost Wages)
In some cases, workers' compensation may also provide disability benefits for lost wages. These benefits are typically awarded if an employee is unable to work due to a temporary or permanent injury or illness.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) - For injured workers who cannot return to work due to a temporary injury, these benefits may last for up to 104 weeks.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) - For injured workers who may return to work, albeit on restricted duty, these benefits may also last for up to 104 weeks.
- Impairment Income Benefits (IIB) - For injured workers who have reached MMI and are approved to return to work, the duration of IIB (sometimes referred to as permanent partial disability) is dependent upon your impairment rating. For workers who are earning greater than or equal to their pre-injury wage, the duration of their IIB benefits is cut in half.
- Two weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 1-10.
- Three weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 11-15.
- Four weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 16-20.
- Six weeks for each percentage point of impairment from 21 and greater.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) - For injured workers who have reached MMI and have been deemed unable to return to work, PTD benefits may be made for the duration of the injury or illness or until the injured worker turns 75 years old.
In the event of an employee's death due to a work-related injury or illness, workers' compensation will provide benefits up to $150,000. Provided that the $150,000 limit is not yet reached, these benefits may last until (specific scenarios may not apply to all):
- The surviving spouse's death
- Remarriage of surviving spouse
- Child of worker reaches 18 years old (22 if enrolled full-time in a university or married)
- Seven years after the death of the worker (for a surviving spouse's educational costs)
Vocational rehabilitation services may be offered for the duration of workers' compensation benefits so long as the injured worker has been unemployed 60 days from the date of their injury. These services may include job search assistance, resume writing help, and vocational training.
Insurance Companies Are Not on Your Side
Employers and their insurance companies, while providing you with essential access to necessary medical care and financial compensation, are looking for every reason not to provide you with these services. Therefore, it is important to remember that insurance companies are not on your side and have every incentive to deny or minimize the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive. Insurance companies have been known to:
- Refuse physician referrals
- Delay payments
- Ask for recorded statements to use against you
- Quickly offer a settlement that is far less than you deserve
To ensure that you are able to access the full range of benefits available under workers' compensation, it is crucial to speak with a knowledgeable legal expert as soon as possible.
How Rosenberg & Rosenberg, P.A. Can Protect Injured Workers
At Rosenberg & Rosenberg, P.A., we are dedicated to protecting the rights of injured workers. We understand that navigating the workers' compensation system can be a frustrating and confusing process, which is why we strive to provide our clients with knowledgeable legal representation and guidance through every step of their claim. Our experienced team will work tirelessly to get you the benefits you are entitled to.
If you have experienced a work-related injury, call us today at (888) 499-6206 to schedule a free initial consultation.