Michigan lawyer explains legal rights and discusses timing of the workers’ comp check.
We understand the stress and worry that goes along with a workplace accident. It can be overwhelming trying to navigate the workers’ comp system. Most families live paycheck-to-paycheck and even a slight interruption can be devastating. Here is some information about legal rights and the workers’ comp check.
Wage Loss Checks
Michigan law protects employees hurt on-the-job. It is a safety net for people who are disabled from working. It pays 80% of the employee’s after-tax average weekly wage subject to a state-wide maximum. This is calculated using the highest 39 paid weeks during the 52 weeks preceding the work injury. Overtime, discontinued fringe benefits, and even second jobs should be included in this calculation.
An employee must be disabled for at least 7 days to qualify for lost wages. If an employee is disabled for 2 weeks or more, entitlement goes back to the very first day. A workers’ comp check is supposed to be sent by the 14th day. However, statistics published by the Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency show it can take on average of 17 days for payments to start.
Checks are typically considered late when they are 30 days past due. Our experience shows that poor claims handling, unresponsive employers, and medical providers who do not send records are the primary reasons for a late workers’ comp check. There is a $50 per day penalty if wage loss benefits are not paid within 30 days of becoming due. This penalty is subject to a maximum of $1,500 and will not apply if a dispute has been filed. We recommend sending any required documentation by certified mail so there is proof when it was submitted, and a penalty can be obtained.
Insurance companies routinely send disabled employees to independent medical examinations. These so-called evaluations are not truly “independent” because doctors are handpicked by the insurance company. Many of these doctors make careers out of testifying against disabled employees.
Insurance companies are required to pay mileage to and from independent medical examinations. This ensures disabled employees can afford to make the appointment. Travel reimbursement rates effective January 1, 2020 include $0.575 for each mile. Watch out for insurance companies who do not sent the mileage check before the scheduled evaluation because this would be good cause to cancel.
Many of our clients opt to settle their claims. This allows them to trade workers’ comp benefits for a lump sum cash payment. It is an attractive option because the insurance company is no longer causing problems, and the money can be spent for any purpose.
All settlements must be approved by a magistrate and there is a 15 day appeal period. A workers’ comp check that is paid for settlement should be received 7 to 10 days after expiration of the 15-day appeal period. It is possible to waive the appeal period and get the payment sooner, but this will require a second hearing.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.