How Long Can You Collect Workers' Comp in Indiana? - Everything Employees Need to Know
After sustaining a work-related injury, employees struggle to maintain their financial stability, as they lose wages and must pay huge medical bills. Fortunately, workers' compensation benefits can ease that burden.
However, many injured employees worry about another important aspect: how long should the insurance company make workers' compensation payments?
The duration of workers' comp benefits depends on several factors, including the state's rules, the type of benefits the employee qualifies for, and the severity of their injuries. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also answer questions like, "Can you take a vacation while on workers compensation?" Find more information about these aspects below.
Factors That May Affect a Workers' Compensation Case
Injured employees should receive workers' compensation benefits as long as they suffer the effects of their workplace injury or until they settle a claim.
However, knowing how long these benefits should last is never that simple since the amount of time is influenced by different factors, such as the following:
State laws: Each state has unique rules and requirements about workers' compensation. In Indiana, there's a maximum benefit allowance for accidents happening after June 2016. Beneficiaries can collect up to $390,000.
The employee's ability to work: A workers' compensation case is usually affected by whether the claimant is able to work, even if it is not their regular job.
The injuries or illness: In addition, the maximum allowance for workers' comp benefits typically depends on whether the employee's injuries heal quickly or result in permanent disability and require prolonged treatment.
What Is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is another aspect that can play a key role in how long injured employees can receive workers' compensation benefits. This is the point where the claimant's injuries or illness have plateaued, so doctors believe they cannot improve with further treatment.
Once the injured employee reaches the MMI, medical care does not focus on improving the workers' condition but on relieving pain or maintaining their function.
How Long Do Workers' Compensation Benefits Last in Indiana?
As mentioned, in Indiana, how long workers' compensation last also depends on the severity of the injuries based on the following categories:
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
After reaching their MMI, many employees are not able to return to their original roles. As a result, they must take a part-time or light-duty job, which usually earns them less than their normal wages.
In this scenario, injured employees may be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. However, these cases are more complicated.
Temporary disability benefits are two-thirds the difference between what the employee currently earns and their normal weekly wages, limited to $780 each week for up to 300 weeks.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Additionally, doctors may determine that an employee suffered total or permanent disability, which would also impact their workers' compensation benefits.
In this case, claimants may be eligible for weekly benefits of two-thirds of their normal salary, limited to $780 weekly for up to 500 weeks.
People who suffer a debilitating work-related injury and are not able to return to work may pursue permanent disability benefits. However, injured employees cannot have another job.
Injured employees may also receive temporary total disability or permanent partial disability benefits depending on their disability rating.
What Is the State's Limit for Workers' Compensation Benefits?
As mentioned, Indiana has set a maximum benefit allowance for a workers' compensation claim for workplace incidents that occurred after June 2016. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can advise on questions such as, "Can I retire while on workers comp?"
In this regard, the Indiana Code § 22-3-3-22(t) (2020) says an injured employee can collect a maximum of $390,000 in workers' comp benefits.
What Can Injured Employees Recover Through Workers' Compensation?
Besides lost wages, workers' compensation also includes medical benefits related to workplace injury. Overall, this type of insurance covers the following aspects of treatment:
Other medical bills (emergency room visits, prescriptions, and necessary surgeries)
Reasonable travel expense
Funeral expenses and death benefits
Dependents of an employee who died as a result of a work-related accident or illness can file for death benefits as long as the injured individual passes away within 500 weeks of the injury date.
If eligible, dependents receive wage benefits for the remaining period up to a total of 500 weeks since the injured employee began receiving benefits.
In addition, workers' comp death benefits can cover up to $10,000 in funeral expenses.
When Should Injured Workers Return to Work?
After developing a workplace injury, getting adequate rest is an essential part of their recovery. However, many injured workers want to return to work as soon as their health shows the first signs of improvement.
Also, many think about their finances since workers' comp benefits only cover a portion of their pre-injury salary.
The workers' compensation system often works like this: benefits end if the employee is no longer disabled. However, many people return to work too soon.
Employees must be truly ready or cleared by their medical teams before returning to work. Otherwise, they risk reinjuring themselves or losing eligibility for future benefits.
Therefore, injured workers should keep the following recommendations in mind:
People's health should always come first, so they should not return to work if it is risky or could affect their well-being.
Injured employees should always follow doctors' treatment plans and wait until they reach their MMI to return to work.
While the workers' compensation insurance company will want to stop paying their benefits as quickly as possible, the return-to-work timeline is determined by the doctor and patient.
All parties involved in the workers' compensation case, including the doctor, employer, and insurance company, must be updated about the injured worker's condition during their recovery.
The workers' compensation insurance company should always be informed about a beneficiary's return-to-work plans.
Communication is key and can make the transition back to work easier.
Should Injured Workers Seek Help From an Indiana Workers' Compensation Lawyer?
Understanding Indiana workers' compensation laws can be complicated for both employees and employers.
Therefore, they should consult with an attorney or contact the Indiana Workers' Compensation Board if they have questions about a case.
In addition, a workers' compensation lawyer can help injured employees fight for their rights, build a case, and negotiate with the insurance company if their benefits are terminated or reduced too soon.
Most insurance companies and employers make decisions based on their best interests. However, a workers comp attorney in Indianapolis can help injured employees get the best results for their recovery.
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!
At Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, there's an experienced legal team with extensive experience handling Indiana workers' compensation claims. This law firm's lawyers have the knowledge and know-how employees need to understand the labor system and maintain their benefits for as long as necessary.
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys today and get a free consultation! They go to war for their clients!