FAQs About Workers’ Compensation

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Neblett, Beard & Arsenault knows you have questions about filing or appealing a workers’ compensation claim. Our website provides answers to your most critical questions about how to receive financial support.

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  • How do I obtain workers' compensation benefits after a heavy lifting injury?

    Injuries related to heavy lifting are a primary cause of workers' compensation claims and can affect workers in a wide range of industries. If you've been injured in a heavy lifting accident, it's vital that you understand your right to compensation.

    Who Is Vulnerable to Heavy Lifting Accidents?

    Lifting injuries can occur in almost every type of occupation. Construction workers often sustain lifting injuries while transporting building materials. Nurses and other healthcare professionals may be hurt trying to lift or reposition immobilized patients. A daycare worker might be injured while pushing a stroller or lifting a child up to wash his hands. A cook might be injured grabbing ingredients from a pantry shelf. Alexandria Workers Comp Lawyer Neblett Beard and Arsenault

    Some of the noted risk factors for heavy lifting injuries include:

    • Carrying an object in a way that creates uneven pressure on the spine such as in one hand, on one shoulder, or under one arm
    • Not taking adequate rest breaks
    • Holding items for a long period of time
    • Working in extreme heat or cold, which can induce fatigue

    How Much Weight Is Considered Too Heavy for a Worker?

    Obviously, people have different levels of physical strength. However, for the purpose of discussing employment-related injury, heavy lifting is defined as a single person lifting an object weighing more than 50 pounds.

    A single person should be able to lift an object that weighs less than this amount if it meets all of the following criteria:

    • No twisting motion is needed to lift.
    • It's at waist height and directly in front of the person doing the lifting.
    • It's within seven inches from the front of the person's body.
    • The load won’t shift after it's lifted.
    • There's a handle on the object.

    When an object doesn't meet these criteria, it's recommended that the weight be decreased into several trips or mechanical assistance such as a moving dolly be used for transport. Alternatively, two people could work together to lift the object.

    The Most Common Types of Heavy Lifting Injuries

    Heavy lifting injuries can vary in severity but may include:

    Most injuries are diagnosed by listening to a patient's description of symptoms, conducting a physical examination, and looking at the results of diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs, or an ultrasound.

    Physical therapy, braces, and pain-relieving medications may be recommended. Surgery can be required if the pain persists for an extended period of time.

    Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

    Most part-time, full-time, seasonal, and temporary workers are covered by workers’ compensation benefits from the first day of their employment. If you've been injured, you should report the incident to a supervisor immediately. Although the law allows you 30 days to report your injury, it's best to file the necessary paperwork as soon as possible. This helps ensure that evidence linking your injury to your place of employment is preserved.

    Your notice to your employer should be a written statement outlining the time, date, circumstances, and specific symptoms related to the incident. It should be signed, and you'll want to make a copy for your own records.

    Your employer must send a First Report of Injury (LWC-WCIA-1) to its insurance company within 10 days from the time you provide notice of your injury. This form officially begins your claim, which may include medical treatment benefits, temporary total disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, catastrophic injury benefits, and/or vocational assistance.

    You are not required to retain an attorney to receive workers' compensation benefits. However, if you are having difficulty accessing your benefits in a timely fashion, an attorney can advocate for your needs and help ensure you receive the compensation necessary to recover from your injuries.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In Louisiana?

    If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • After a work injury, what happens if I can't return to my old job?

    In the best-case scenario, you receive Louisiana workers' compensation benefits during a short recovery period and then return to work in your old position. However, some types of injuries make it difficult or impossible to handle your previous responsibilities. In these cases, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation benefits through the workers' compensation program.  Alexandria Workers Comp Lawyer Neblett Beard and Arsenault

    Eligibility for Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits

    For the purpose of workers' compensation, returning to work is considered one of the following:

    • Returning to your previous position
    • Returning to a modified version of your previous position
    • Returning to a related occupation suited to your education and marketable skills

    If these options are not possible, a vocational rehabilitation counselor can help you seek on–the-job training, as well as a minimum amount of retraining or support with self-employment. What vocational training involves will depend on your injury, previous position, and past education.

    Labor Market Surveys

    A labor market survey is based on the results of a functional capacity evaluation. This is a test administered by a physical therapist who looks at what parts of a job would be difficult for you to perform given the state of your injuries. Some of the specific tasks you're evaluated on include your ability to stand, climb, lift weights, and carry boxes.

    Your labor market survey will be prepared by a vocational expert hired by the insurance company. The survey should contain one or more jobs that appear to be compatible with your physical limitations, past education, and current skills as described in your functional capacity evaluation. Locally available jobs must be given priority when compared to positions in a statewide job pool.

    It is important to remember that vocational rehabilitation doesn't necessarily have to involve finding an injured worker another job. You can apply for the jobs listed in your labor market survey, but the state can consider vocational rehabilitation accomplished even if you don't find a position within the specified timeframe for receiving benefits. Job placement is not legally required, as long as they've established your wage-earning capacity.

    Receiving Additional Training

    Vocational rehabilitation is designed to return a worker to employment as soon as possible. You will not be offered retraining opportunities if it is determined that there are suitable jobs already available to you. Retraining is only an option when your injuries have made it impossible to return to your previous employment, and there are no other jobs available that match your education and skill level.

    Workers injured on the job who are determined to be eligible for vocational rehab training services can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, with an additional 26-week extension allowed in select cases. However, a request for vocational retraining must be filed within two years from the end date of temporary total disability as determined by the treating physician.

    In most cases, retraining programs are provided within the state. If a program requires temporary residence away from the worker's home, the employer or workers' compensation insurer must pay reasonable costs for board, lodging, or travel.

    Protecting Your Legal Rights

    If your employer won't respond to your request for vocational rehabilitation services or you do not feel as though the services being provided are meeting your needs, you can file a dispute with the state workers’ compensation court. In this case, you'll qualify for an expedited hearing on the matter.

    Legal representation isn't required to receive workers' compensation benefits, but having an experienced attorney to advocate for your interests can be valuable when you're experiencing difficulty gaining approval for the appropriate vocational rehabilitation services or if you don’t believe the results of your labor market survey accurately reflect your employment prospects.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In Louisiana?

    If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • How is my average weekly wage calculated for my workers' compensation benefits?

    Knowing your average weekly wage is a crucial part of calculating how much you can expect to receive in workers' compensation benefits.

    Figuring Your Gross Wages

    For the purpose of workers' compensation claims, the term gross wages is used to refer to the total amount of your pay before deductions—Social Security, state and federal income tax, retirement plans, and health insurance. Taxable fringe benefits such as the payment of some business expenses should also be included in your gross wages.

    As a general rule of thumb, gross wages include any type of compensation you're supposed to pay income taxes on or that is transferred into a pre-tax account each pay period.

    Calculating Four Weeks of Wages

    Alexandria Workers Comp Lawyer Neblett Beard and Arsenault

    Your average weekly wage for your workers' compensation benefits is calculated using gross pay from the four full weeks before you were injured.

    For a full-time employee, four weeks may be more than four calendar weeks if any of the following apply:

    • You were required by your employer to work a reduced schedule.
    • You were laid off for all or part of a week.
    • You took a full or partial vacation week.
    • You were off work due to a holiday.

    For most claims, you should not count the week that your accident happened. If you were not able to continue working immediately after your injury, this week does not represent a full week of earnings.

    Workers’ compensation benefits generally begin on your first day of employment. If you were hurt at work before you have four weeks of earnings in your new position, your benefits will be calculated based on your expected earnings for a four-week time period.

    Special Rules for Workers With Two or More Jobs

    In today's economy, many workers are forced to work two or more jobs to make ends meet. If you have more than one employer at the time of your injury, the state will calculate your average weekly wage based on the hourly rate you earned at the job where you suffered the injury. This hourly rate will be multiplied by the total hours you worked in both jobs, up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.

    If you were injured at your lower paying job or regularly work more than 40 hours per week between all of your jobs, this method of calculating your average weekly wage will result in reduced benefit eligibility.

    Average Weekly Wage for Salaried and Seasonal Employees

    If you're paid a salary, calculating your average weekly wage can be done with one of the following calculations:

    • (Monthly salary x 12) divided by 52 weeks in a year
    • Annual salary divided by 52 weeks in a year

    A seasonal worker is someone who regularly works less than 44 weeks per year. This includes workers in professions such as road construction and landscaping as well as those who work in seasonal hospitality positions at pools, amusement parks, and other tourist attractions.

    A seasonal worker's average weekly wage is figured by dividing annual earnings by 52 weeks in a year.

    Benefit Cap for High Earners

    Injured workers employed in high paying professions may not receive benefits based on their entire average weekly wage. The state caps the maximum benefit amount based on an average weekly wage of $876. If your actual earnings are more than this, you'll only receive benefits based on the $876 wage rate.

    How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim

    Louisiana law allows workers 30 days to report an injury to their supervisor, but it’s best to file the necessary paperwork as soon as possible. Once you make a report to your employer, the company must send a First Report of Injury (LWC-WCIA-1) to the insurance company within 10 days. This step officially begins your worker's compensation claim, including medical treatment and income replacement benefits.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In Louisiana?

    If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Can I choose my own doctor to treat my work-related injury?

    When you're recovering from a workplace injury, having a doctor you trust is essential. For this reason, Louisiana's workers' compensation law allows injured workers flexibility in selecting a healthcare provider to oversee their treatment. Alexandria Workers Comp Lawyer Neblett Beard and Arsenault

    Choosing a Doctor to Treat Your Workplace Injury

    Every state has different rules regarding the choice of doctors for treating a workplace injury. For minor injuries, Louisiana workers' compensation law allows you to choose your own treating doctor and to switch from one specialty to another without needing prior approval from your employer or insurer. This means that you could seek initial care from your regular family doctor and be referred to a specialist without needing approval.

    If your injuries are expected to exceed $750 of care, however, your doctor must obtain approval from the workers' compensation insurer to continue treatment unless the treatment is classified as a medical emergency. The insurer is not allowed to withhold consent for treatment without probable cause such as a dispute over whether your injuries are actually work related.

    If you receive bills for your medical care related to a workplace injury, they should be forwarded to your employer or your employer's workers' compensation insurer. Do not submit medical bills directly to the Louisiana Office of Workers' Compensation Administration, as this will only delay payment of the claim.

    Receiving Initial Care From Your Employer’s Doctor

    Some larger employers have a doctor on call to treat injured workers. If you received initial medical care from your employer's doctor, you do not have to continue treatment with this provider. The law allows you to switch to your own doctor, if desired.

    Your employer may also provide you with a list of approved doctors to choose from before you begin medical treatment. These doctors will have an established relationship with the insurer and experience in treating the most common workplace injuries. You may choose to see a healthcare provider on this list for your own convenience, but you are not legally required to do so.

    If Your Request to Choose Your Own Doctor Is Denied

    If your employer denies your request to choose your own doctor to handle your workplace injury, you will want to have your attorney request a hearing before a workers' compensation judge to resolve the issue.

    If you are unhappy with the quality of care you received from your first-choice provider, you must obtain prior approval from the workers' compensation insurer before switching to another doctor in the same specialty. No approval is needed if the second doctor practices in a different specialty.

    Medical Examinations Requested by Your Employer

    Your employer has the option to request that you be examined by a doctor chosen by the company. If you fail to agree to this exam, your payments may be temporarily suspended.

    If your doctor and your employer's doctor don't agree regarding the severity of your condition or the proper course of treatment, you may be entitled to an Independent Medical Examination (IME). An IME can be requested by completing Form LWC-WC 1015 and forwarding it to the Medical Services Section of the Office of Workers' Compensation Administration.

    Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help

    Workers' compensation law can be quite complex, and the process of settling your claim can seem overwhelming when you're focused on recovering from your work-related injury. Retaining an experienced workers' compensation attorney to advocate on your behalf can ensure that your case is resolved promptly and that you receive the maximum possible benefits under the law.

    If you do not retain an attorney, the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster is typically the party who is making decisions and administering the claim. Since the insurance adjuster’s loyalty is to his employer, these decisions may not truly be in your best interest.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In Louisiana?

    If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • How can I maximize my workers’ compensation claim?

    Workers' compensation benefits are intended to alleviate some of the strain workers feel when they've been injured on the job. There are specific formulas used to set benefit levels, but you can still take advantage of a few simple tips to maximize your available workers' compensation benefits.  Alexandria Workers Comp Lawyer Neblett Beard and Arsenault

    1. Establish a Solid Paper Trail

    Workers' compensation benefits have strict documentation requirements, so it's vital that you provide a paper trail to support your case. Report your injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. Fill out all required paperwork completely and honestly.

    When you're receiving medical treatment, keep records of expenses for gas, parking, and lodging, so you can be reimbursed at a later date. If your injuries are severe, it can also be helpful to keep an informal journal outlining your symptoms throughout the recovery process.

    2. Follow Your Doctor's Orders

    Workers' compensation benefits can be denied if the insurer thinks you're faking or exaggerating the severity of your injuries. The best way to avoid this problem is to keep all recommended medical appointments and precisely follow your doctor's treatment plan.

    3. Don't Settle Your Claim Any Earlier Than Necessary

    Workers' compensation insurers are well aware that many adults don't have sufficient emergency savings. They will often attempt to string you along until you're forced to settle the claim to pay your outstanding bills.

    You can increase the value of your benefits by not rushing to settle your case. Use money from savings, sell unwanted items, have your spouse pick up extra hours, or temporarily borrow money from family and friends.

    4. Seek Legal Representation as Soon as Possible

    Although you don't technically need an attorney to receive workers' compensation benefits, enlisting the services of a skilled attorney ensures that you have someone to advocate for your needs throughout the process. An attorney who is familiar with Louisiana’s workers’ compensation laws can negotiate for the highest possible benefits on your behalf.

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In Louisiana?

    If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • Are part-time employees eligible for workers’ compensation?

    Workers’ compensation pays for the cost of medical care and lost wages when you've suffered an on-the-job injury. These benefits must be provided by your employer regardless of your employment status, which means that a part-time worker typically is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Alexandria Workers Comp Lawyer Neblett Beard and Arsenault

    Determining Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation

    Louisiana law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage even if they have only one employee. The law makes no distinction between full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers. For example, a teenager working part time at a fast food restaurant maintains the same eligibility as an adult working full time in a factory. However, employees of a private residence or a private unincorporated farm may be exempt depending on the specific duties they perform.

    You'll receive the same level of medical coverage regardless of your working status. In the case of a permanently disabling injury, all workers have the same eligibility for vocational rehabilitation services. The number of hours you typically work per week only affects your eligibility for income replacement benefits, since this type of workers' compensation coverage is calculated based on your earnings.

    Eligibility for workers' compensation benefits begins on your first day of employment. This means, you should receive benefits even if you are injured during your initial training period. Your income replacement benefits will simply be calculated based on the expected earnings for the position.

    Seeking Workers' Compensation Benefits

    After suffering a work-related injury, you should report the incident to your supervisor immediately. Establishing a formal record of your injury is the first step to receiving benefits.

    Your employer is not legally required to hold your job for you following a workplace injury, but Louisiana law prevents employers from firing a worker solely because he filed a workers' compensation claim.

    Since workers' compensation laws are quite complex, it is advisable to retain the services of an attorney who is experienced in advocating for the needs of injured workers. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault is committed to assisting Louisiana residents in accessing their available workers' compensation benefits. 

    Have You Been Injured On The Job In Louisiana?

    If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.