What do teachers, road construction workers, landscapers, truck drivers, professional athletes, and other seasonal employees need to know about their workers’ compensation benefits in Michigan?
Summer is coming to its end and the weather is changing quickly. This means teachers are back to school for another year. Orange barrels are disappearing as road construction winds down. Landscapers are getting their shovels, salt, and snow plows ready for the winter months. The Detroit Lions are gearing up for their regular season debut and the Detroit Tigers are already out of the pennant race.
Today’s blog post is about seasonal employment and how it can impact payment of workers’ compensation benefits in Michigan. This is an issue that not many disabled employees consider until weekly checks are abruptly stopped. We seem to get several frantic telephone calls from potential clients when the season changes. Here are some issues that seasonal employees should know about and how to keep wage loss benefits going.
Michigan law requires payment of wage loss benefits to disabled employees hurt on-the-job. They should receive 80% of their after-tax average weekly wage. Unlimited medical treatment without any co-pays or deductibles is also owed. These are potentially lifetime benefits.
Employees who are considered “seasonal” might not qualify for wage loss benefits during the off-season. This is because they would not have otherwise been earning wages. This applies to teachers, road construction workers, landscapers, truck drivers, professional athletes, and other seasonal employees. It comes as a big shock when weekly checks stop coming in the mail.
Michigan courts have ruled that wage loss benefits continue if a seasonal employee still has a “wage loss” during the off-season. The disabled employee must show a factual link between his or her wage loss both during and after the season ends. This can be accomplished by presenting evidence of other jobs and wages earned during the off-season. A good-faith job search will also be required. Our experience shows that insurance companies routinely fight these claims.
Some employees, like teachers, opt to have their paychecks spread out over the entire year. These individuals can argue that wage loss benefits should continue for the entire period including the off-season.
Medical care should not be impacted by seasonal employment. All reasonable and necessary treatment should be covered 100% during the off-season. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation insurance companies sometime stop payment of medical without fully understanding the law.
Confusion regarding seasonal employment and workers’ compensation has led to many disabled employees losing their wage loss and/or medical benefits. Just because a person is not working for the off season does not mean their disability has ended. It is best to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to evaluate potential claims should benefits stop. There is no fee unless additional benefits or a settlement is obtained.
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) 201-9497 for a free consultation today.