Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to provide a financial safety net to help offset expenses while you are unable to work. However, Louisiana’s system can be difficult to navigate when you’re worried about how your injury will affect your long-term health.
At Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, we’re committed to helping injured workers access the benefits they need to protect themselves and their families. We can help you with your claim, so you’re free to focus on your recovery.
Types of Injuries and Illnesses Covered by Louisiana Workers’ Compensation
Louisiana workers’ compensation protects most full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal workers from their first day of employment, as well as some subcontractors or independent contractors. Benefits can be awarded for:
- Any unexpected or unforeseen event that causes a job-related injury. Heavy lifting accidents and slip and fall accidents are some of the most common types of workers’ compensation claims.
- Mental injuries resulting from a physical injury that occurred at the workplace, or extraordinary stress that stemmed from employment. An example of this might be PTSD that occurs from witnessing a robbery or being involved in an accident that led to permanent paralysis.
- Diseases that stem from toxic exposure or other conditions on the job. Occupational diseases are defined by Louisiana law as a disease or illness that is due to conditions characteristic of the particular trade in which the employee was exposed. An example of this would be a factory worker who is exposed to asbestos. The events that caused the injury must be within the scope of the employee’s employment duties.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you can still receive benefits even if your own inexperience or carelessness caused your injuries. However, there are some exceptions to coverage. For example, if the employee willfully caused the injury or if he or she was intoxicated at the time of the injury, workers' compensation may not apply.
Benefits Available to Workers Who Have Been Hurt on the Job in Louisiana
Workers’ compensation can encompass several different types of benefits, depending upon the severity of your injury. Your benefits may include:
- Medical treatment. As a claimant, you are entitled to all necessary medical services, including hospital bills and medical services, for your injury. This includes medicine and other non-medical treatment, such as chiropractic treatment, where warranted.
- Mileage. The employer must also compensate the individual for mileage expenses incurred by the employee for travel to and from medical services. You should keep detailed records of your mileage to ensure that you are properly reimbursed.
- Wage replacement. Your employer must provide you with wage replacement benefits during the period that you are unable to work. These benefits provide two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a yearly state-approved maximum. They may be referred to as indemnity benefits.
- Supplemental earnings benefits. If you are able to return to work, but earning less than 90% of your original wage, you may be able to receive supplemental earnings benefits to cover two-thirds of the difference between your new position and the job you held at the time of your injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation. If the employee’s ability to earn wages has been reduced, the employer must provide vocational rehabilitation services. In some cases, this can include access to retraining programs.
- Disability payments. Permanent disability payments are available for individuals who are unable to hold any type of gainful employment, regardless of whether it matches their education, training, and qualifications.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Rights After a Workplace Accident or Injury
If you’ve been hurt at work, there are several steps you should take to protect your right to benefits.
- Report the injury immediately. Even if you think your pain is minor or your injury will heal on its own, your supervisor must document the accident to protect your eligibility for benefits. You have 30 days to report your injury, but it’s always best to tell your supervisor as soon as possible.
- Request a copy of the incident report. Your supervisor should prepare “First Report of Injury” and provide this document to the company’s workers’ compensation insurer. The insurer will then submit the form to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
- Get medical care. In an emergency, you can choose care from any hospital or doctor. For non-emergency care, you can choose any specialist approved to treat workers’ compensation injuries. However, if your care costs more than $750, the doctor will need to get approval from the insurer prior to treatment.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations. It’s vital that you comply with your doctor’s treatment recommendations, including any activity restrictions. If you do not obtain the recommended treatment or engage in activities that would aggravate your injury, the insurer can deny your claim.
- Keep a journal of your injuries. This should include the date of the accident and the names of any eyewitnesses. Also, keep a daily log of how the injury is physically affecting your life.
- Do not discuss your case with others. One of the most common mistakes people make when seeking workers’ compensation benefits is discussing their case on social media or in public locations. Insurance companies often use private investigators to monitor the activity of people who are seeking benefits.
- Submit to any requested medical exam. Your employer can request that you be examined by a company-provided doctor. If you do not agree to this exam, your benefits can be temporarily suspended. However, if your doctor and your employer’s doctor disagree about your treatment, you may be eligible to request an Independent Medical Examination (IME).
How the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
Workers’ compensation benefits are calculated using formulas provided by the state, but you can maximize your compensation by making sure you follow all set guidelines for documenting your condition. The easiest way to do this is to work with an attorney to prepare your claim.
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault have been representing individuals with workplace injuries for more than 30 years. We have assisted Louisiana clients from Alexandria, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Lafayette, and Monroe. Our firm has a thorough understanding of Louisiana workers’ compensation law and we utilize our extensive background in workers’ compensation cases to best assist our clients.
Some of the many types of cases we handle include
- Catastrophic injuries. A catastrophic injury is defined as paralysis, amputation, or the loss of both eyes. Catastrophic injury victims are entitled to a one-time lump sum payment in addition to the standard Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits.
- Previously denied claims. If you have already filed a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim but have been denied, we are here to help. Our legal team understands the various levels of workers’ compensation appeal procedures and will work to help you receive the settlement you deserve.
- Death benefits. If your loved one was killed in a work-related accident, we can assist you in obtaining the death benefits that are available for spouses, children, and other dependents.
- Work-related car accidents. If you’re injured in a work-related car accident caused by a third-party, you may be able to file a personal injury claim in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits. This is beneficial because the car accident claim can pay for your pain and suffering as well as any associated property damage.
- Dog bite injuries. Door-to-door salespeople, home healthcare workers, delivery drivers, and those who make home repairs are vulnerable to dog bites on the job. As with work-related car accidents, dog bite injuries may be eligible for a personal injury claim as well as Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits.
If you believe you may have a case, contact our firm immediately. We can evaluate your claim, answer your questions, and tell you how we will proceed. Even if you’re not sure you can get compensation, let’s talk. We provide legal representation throughout the state of Louisiana and will even come to you if your injuries prevent you from traveling to our Alexandria office. Cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, so there is no initial cost for representation.
For help with your work injury case, contact our law firm today at (318) 541-8188.