One of the worst workplace accidents in recent history happened in 2006 when the Wal-Mart Super Center was being built here in Bloomington. Three electrical workers who were working at the site were severely burned after an electrical arc caused a flash fire that engulfed the small room they were working in. The men were subcontractors with the company Electromation.
Electricity was supposed to be turned off while the men were working, but the job was behind schedule and workers’ safety took a backseat to getting the job done rapidly. The men were not wearing the level of protective gear required for working around live electricity. A spokesman for the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union alleged they had not been properly protected nor were they properly trained for the dangerous work they were doing.
If you or somebody you love has been injured on the job or suffered a job-related illness or medical condition, you should be eligible for workers’ compensation. In some cases, you may also need to file a third-party lawsuit in order to receive all the compensation for your injury you will need. This is only one of numerous reasons that you should talk to an experienced attorney before filing a claim for workers’ compensation.
In the above horrific accident, a representative of Electromation tried to blame the accident on one of the injured workers. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario. Many employers and their insurance carriers will try to blame an accident on the victim in order to escape liability.
Indiana Workers’ Comp Laws Are Complicated
Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Your employer pays for the insurance coverage, and if an employee is injured or ill because of or while on the job, the insurance pays for:
- Medical bills
- 2/3 of wages (non-taxable)
- Survivors’ benefits for dependents if worker is killed on the job
You can receive the following types of benefits for your injury or illness:
Temporary Total Disability if you cannot perform any work due to your disability. TTD pays 2/3 of your pay, non-taxable, for a maximum of 500 weeks.
Temporary Partial Disability if you cannot perform the kind of work you were doing due to your injury or illness. TPD pays 2/3 non-taxable of the difference in your pay if your new job pays less than the one you did before you were injured.
Permanent Total Disability if you cannot ever do any kind of work again due to your injury or illness. You can receive 2/3 of your pay for 500 weeks, and if all parties are agreed, you can elect to receive a lump sum, in an amount not less than $75,000.
Permanent Partial Impairment can be paid if your physician determines that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, and you are still partially disabled.
In exchange for the coverage, workers give up the right to sue the employer when a workplace accident happens, except in strictly limited circumstances. It is your responsibility to seek medical treatment right away and to report your injury or illness to your employer within 30 days after you are injured in a work accident or if you become aware you have a medical condition which was caused by your job.
It is your employer’s responsibility to file a First Report of Injury with the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board. You can confirm that your employer filed a claim by entering your Social Security number into the Indiana Workers’ Comp Website database.
You have a right to pick your own medical provider for emergency treatment. Your employer has the right to pick your medical provider for long-term care with limited exceptions. Your employer’s insurance carrier will likely determine whether your claim or part of your claim is accepted or disputed.
Reasons Your Claim Can Be Denied
Your employer or its insurer may deny your claim on the following grounds:
- Your injury was self-inflicted
- You were intoxicated when the injury occurred
- You committed a legal offense which caused the injury
- You knowingly failed to use safety equipment
- You knowingly broke a safety rule
- Your injury did not occur on the job/in the course of your employment
Your employer or its insurance carrier can say you aren’t really hurt, that you failed to follow doctor’s instruction or use any number of excuses to dispute your workers’ comp claim. Your employer has the burden of proving any of the affirmative defenses listed above once you appeal your denial.
What Happens If My Workers’ Compensation Is Denied?
If you haven’t yet received any benefits, you can file a request for assistance with the workers’ compensation ombudsman division. If the ombudsman division cannot help you, or if you are not able to reach an agreement with the insurance carrier during the informal mediation, you can file an appeal with the workers’ compensation board. If you have not engaged the services of an experienced attorney, now would be a very good time to do so. Your employer or its insurance carrier will almost certainly have an attorney present at the workers’ compensation hearing.
You may be asking yourself why you would need an attorney to receive insurance benefits you are entitled to by law. It doesn’t seem fair, but insurance companies are notorious for being reluctant to pay claims or for looking for any excuse to reduce the amount of money they have to pay accident victims.
Isaacs & Isaacs Workers’ Comp Attorneys Fight for Workers to Receive Maximum Benefits
At Isaacs & Isaacs, we want to make sure that when an injured worker comes to us for help filing or appealing a claim, they will receive all the compensation they are entitled to by law. Hardworking people are the backbone of our country, and we believe that when a worker is injured on the job, that person should receive the benefits the law has in place to provide a safety net. We realize how unfair it is when an employer and the insurance people want to dispute your claim or pay you less money than you are entitled to receive after you have worked hard for a company. Isaacs & Isaacs workers’ comp attorneys are committed to leveling the playing field.
We understand how to provide substantial proof of your workplace injury and, if your employer or the insurance people want to claim you are able to go back to work when you cannot do so, we know what to do to defend your rights and prove you are still disabled. Our attorneys are familiar with the complicated Indiana workers’ compensation claims process, and we are experienced in representing clients before the workers’ comp board.
In some situations, you may need to file a third-party lawsuit as well as a claim for workers’ comp. We will investigate the facts of your accident to see if a third party such as an equipment manufacturer is also liable for your injury. We know how to make sure you receive all the compensation you are entitled to from all liable parties.
How Will I Find the Money to Hire an Attorney When I Cannot Work?
Isaacs & Isaacs workers’ compensation attorneys will represent you on a contingency fee basis. You don’t have to pay us anything unless we win your claim! With so much at stake, you should enlist the help of an experienced Isaacs & Isaacs workers’ compensation lawyer without delay. The sooner you call us the faster we can begin to investigate the circumstances of your accident to prove liability. You can contact us 24/7 at 800-800-8888 or fill out our form to speak to an experienced and dedicated Isaacs & Isaacs workers’ comp lawyer. We are on your side.