Nearly all jobs carry some risk of a workplace accident. This applies to traditionally dangerous professions, such as factory work or construction, as well as office settings or retail stores.
Fortunately, Michigan’s workers’ compensation system allows injured employees to file a claim and recover compensation after an on-the-job accident. These claims may provide medical care, temporary disability benefits, and even payments for any permanent loss of work ability. Still, obtaining these benefits can be difficult, and many workers encounter obstacles along the way.
An experienced attorney from Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. could help injured workers in Michigan seek workers’ compensation benefits under their employers’ insurance policies. Armed with this information, workers can understand the obligations of their employers, what benefits a workers’ compensation insurance policy may provide, and a fair value for their claim.
Seeking Medical Care Following an Injury
As soon as possible after an accident, an injured employee should report their injury to their supervisor. This supervisor has the right to determine which doctor will treat their injuries for the first 28 days of treatment. After that, if more treatment is necessary, a worker can change their doctor as long as they notify both their employer and their insurance company. This medical care is always free of charge and will remain in effect until a worker reaches a maximum level of medical improvement. This benefit always applies whenever an on-the-job injury occurs, regardless of fault or duration of the disability.
Payment for Total Disability
The most common form of workers’ compensation benefits that an injured employee in Michigan may collect is wage loss benefits. This compensation is available when a person’s injury or illness is so severe as to prevent them from returning to work for at least seven consecutive days. According to Michigan General Statutes §418.301(7), the insurance company must provide wage reimbursement benefits at a rate of 80 percent of the individual’s average weekly wage for as long as the disability persists.
To collect these benefits, an employee must be able to prove that their condition prevents them from performing both their old job and any other job for which they may be qualified. This requires an in-depth examination of a worker’s education, training, and work history. An attorney could help to evaluate the extent of a person’s disability and whether this qualifies them for wage reimbursement benefits.
Single Payments for Specific Losses
Many instances that result in wage reimbursement benefits center around a general inability to continue working. However, other cases may allege that an on-the-job incident has resulted in a permanent loss of bodily function. These are injuries that leave a worker with loss of function in a limb or other body part.
To collect benefits, a claimant should be able to point to a doctor’s notes that indicate a loss of function in the affected area. When this is the case, workers’ compensation must pay weekly benefits for a set period of time according to the specific affected area. For example, the loss of function in or amputation of a thumb qualifies a worker for 65 weeks of benefits.
It is important to remember that employees cannot collect these specific loss payments at the same time as wage loss benefits. However, a worker may collect this compensation even if they return to work before the prescribed benefit period expires. As a result, a specific loss payment may form a significant portion of a Michigan workers’ compensation benefits claim.
When a worker dies or is killed due to a work-related injury, their dependents might be entitled to receive death benefits. A dependent is usually a child or the wife of the deceased, who must prove that they were dependent on the worker for food, shelter, clothing, and other needs. If the worker is not married and has no children, this death benefit provision does not apply. The amount of death benefits available changes over time, which is why seeking the counsel of a workers’ compensation attorney in Michigan could be helpful.
Death benefits are paid for a total of 500 weeks, except where the worker is survived by minor children, in which the period can be longer. Furthermore, if a child is physically or mentally incapacitated, then the benefits can continue indefinitely. A surviving spouse, however, can only receive the 500-week maximum. Despite these laws, employers and insurance companies often look for reasons not to pay death benefits. It can either be just the refusal to pay the benefits or an argument that the death was not work-related.
An Attorney Could Help You to Collect Michigan Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Suffering an injury on the job can throw a person’s health and finances into chaos. It is essential for employees to understand how workers’ compensation insurance works in order to collect all available benefits.
Michigan workers’ compensation benefits are a complex combination of medical care, wage reimbursement, and specific loss benefits. A person will always receive free medical attention but may have to fight to demonstrate a complete inability to work because of their condition. In addition, many insurance disputes center on whether an injury to a limb or eye is significant enough to warrant specific loss payments. A skilled attorney from Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. could help you to better understand the Michigan workers’ compensation system and fight for fair payment.
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