Although most people will eventually recover from their work-related injuries, some types of accidents can result in permanently disabling conditions. These injuries may be considered catastrophic under Louisiana law.
About Catastrophic Injuries and Workers' Compensation
Most Louisiana workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers, are covered by workers' compensation on their first day of employment. Claims must be paid for on-the-job injuries, even if the employee's inexperience or actions caused the accident. However, injuries resulting from intoxication or a deliberate attempt at self-harm are not eligible for benefits.
Catastrophic injuries are those which will result in significant medical costs and dramatically alter an injured worker's quality of life. Only the following types of injuries are considered catastrophic under Louisiana law:
- Paraplegia, which is a type of paralysis affecting bodily function from the waist down
- Quadriplegia, which is a type of paralysis resulting in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and the torso
- Amputation of hands or arms
- Amputation of feet or legs
- Physical loss of both eyes
Although other conditions may result in high medical expenses, reduced earning potential, and changes in quality of life, only paralysis and physical loss of a body part are considered catastrophic injury. Functional loss or loss of use of the hands, arms, feet, or legs does not constitute anatomical loss.
Benefits for Catastrophic Injuries
If your injury is considered a catastrophic injury, you are eligible for a one-time award of $50,000. This is in addition to other workers' compensation benefits such as:
Workers’ compensation must pay for reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your work injury. This includes hospital bills, doctor visits, prescription medications, and any applicable prosthetic devices.
You are entitled to be reimbursed for mileage for travel to and from doctor appointments.
Temporary Total Disability
TTD benefits replace two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a state approved maximum, until you've reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Permanent Total Disability
PTD benefits also replace two-thirds of your average weekly wages, subject to the same maximum as TTD benefits. These benefits can be paid for as long as the disability continues. You are considered totally disabled only if you cannot earn any wages in the same job or another job.
Permanent Partial Disability
PPD benefits replace two-thirds of your average weekly wages, subject to the state maximum, for a length of time that depends on the part of the body injured. For example, someone with 100% loss of use of an arm can receive benefits for up to 200 weeks.
If you are unable to return to your normal job due to your disability but still have the ability to perform some type of labor, you can receive applicable placement services to help find suitable employment.
In some cases, your employer may offer you a lump sum settlement in exchange for a release of further obligations. While receiving a large settlement upfront may seem appealing at first, it is important not to accept the offer until you've determined that it adequately compensates you for your injuries. If you accept a lump sum settlement, you could be in financial peril if you later discover your expenses are higher than you anticipated.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
A catastrophic injury can dramatically alter the course of your life. Hiring a workers' compensation attorney to handle your claim is the best way to ensure that you receive the full benefits you deserve after suffering a serious work-related injury.
An attorney can advocate for your right to full benefits and handle any claim denials that you may encounter. When your workers’ compensation claim is denied, or any portion of the claim is disputed, you have the legal right to a hearing before a workers’ compensation judge. If the judge does not rule in your favor, your attorney can file an appeal with the Circuit Court of Appeals.
The award-winning legal team at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is dedicated to providing injured Louisiana workers effective and aggressive representation for their workers' compensation claims. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.