What every claimant needs to know about his or her workers comp claim in Michigan.
The best way to ensure success is by understanding the workers comp system. This includes knowing which hurdles you must jump. Don’t count on being paid forever as most claims are eventually disputed. Here are some issues you should know about.
1. Give notice of injury
You must give notice within 90 days. Notice can be oral so if you told a supervisor or manager this should be sufficient. We recommend that you fill out an accident report so that it is documented. Reporting an injury days later can have bad consequences. It is critical that you report all injuries immediately after they occur.
2. Making a claim for benefits
You must also make a claim for workers comp benefits within 2 years. Claim can be oral so simply asking for medical treatment or wage loss benefits is enough. Sometimes an employer will refuse to notify the insurance company and this will delay the entire process. Employers avoid responsibility because each claim has the potential to increase insurance premiums. Get legal assistance if you are given the runaround.
3. Waiting for payment to begin
There is a 7 day wait period under workers comp. You will not receive any wage loss benefits during the first week of disability. Most employers require that you use vacation or sick days during this period of time. Entitlement to wage loss benefits begin on the 8th day. If your disability lasts longer than 14 days, you can receive wage loss benefits going back to the first day. Medical benefits start on the first day of injury but you must wait 28 days to choose your own doctor.
4. The dreaded IME
Michigan law requires that you submit to an independent medical examination (IME) if requested by the employer or its insurance company. The doctor who performs this examination will not provide any medical treatment and no doctor-patient relationship will be established. These doctors are not independent and make a career out of testifying for insurance companies.
5. Notice of dispute
Workers comp benefits can be stopped once a Notice of Dispute is filed. The burden is on the employee to file an application for mediation or hearing and challenge an unfair decision. Insurance companies file disputes for all kinds of dumb reasons.
6. Vocational rehabilitation
A vocational rehabilitation counselor may be hired to help you with retraining or job placement. This can actually make your situation worse if he or she suggests demeaning jobs or ignores work restrictions from your doctor. Vocational rehabilitation counselors are sometimes hired for the purpose of reducing workers comp benefits. This will be based upon jobs the insurance company thinks you can find. A good faith job search may also be required.
Deciding to settle can be very stressful but it has many rewards. A lump sum cash payment allows you to move on with your life. The amount paid will depend upon how long you will be disabled. Don’t rely upon stories from friends or relatives about how much they got for their settlements. Every claim is different and must be evaluated on its own merits.
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 (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by AdamKR.