Michigan workers’ comp lawyer explains the system that’s designed to help people injured at work
Below are some frequently asked questions to help you understand workers’ compensation in Michigan.
Q. What is workers’ compensation insurance?
A. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that most employers are required to purchase by law. Your employer pays the cost of this insurance and it is intended to protect you in the event of a work injury.
Your employer must have workers’ compensation insurance if it has three or more employees at any given time, or has one employee working 35 hours or more per week.
Michigan adopted its first workers’ compensation law in 1912. Here’s how it works: Injured employees receive worker’s comp benefits regardless of who is at fault for the accident. But an injured employee cannot sue for additional damages in civil court.
Q. What does workers’ compensation pay an injured worker?
A. Workers’ compensation does not require that you prove fault to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation pays wage loss, medical treatment, mileage reimbursement and vocational rehabilitation.
Lost wages: Wage loss benefits pay injured workers a percentage of the wages they would have earned had they not been injured. That’s why the benefit is called “wage loss.” These are wages you have “lost” because of your at-work injuries.
Lost wages are based upon a percentage of your average weekly wage. You can compute this amount by taking the highest 39 weeks of the 52 weeks preceding your work injury. Overtime, premium pay and bonuses should be included in this calculation. Under certain circumstances, the value of discontinued fringe benefits may be added to increase your average weekly wage.
The amount of wage loss benefits that you receive will be 80 percent of your after-tax average weekly wage. Wage loss benefits under workers’ compensation are tax free.
Lost wages can be a lifetime benefit.
Many disputes over workers’ compensation occur because your employer or its insurance company are paying weekly benefits at the wrong rate. If you have questions about your wage loss rate, call (844) 345-0952 for help from a Michigan work comp lawyer now.
Medical treatment: Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier will also be responsible for paying all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your work injury. This holds true even if your treatment continues after you have returned to work.
Medical treatment can include attendant care (nursing services), dental care, artificial limbs, eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs and other appliances necessary to cure or relieve the effects of your work injury.
Medical treatment is unlimited and can be paid for life.
Insurance companies will often dispute what is reasonable and necessary medical treatment. If your insurance company is giving you problems with reimbursing your medical expenses, call (844) 345-0952 for help from a Michigan work comp lawyer today.
Vocational rehabilitation: Vocational rehabilitation is a work comp benefit that includes schooling or training to prepare you for another job, if you find yourself incapable of doing your past work because of permanent medical restrictions. Your employer may be required to provide vocational rehabilitation to help you get back to gainful employment.
Vocational rehabilitation could include tuition reimbursement or retraining for another job.
Your employer and its insurance company have an incentive to help you with job placement, because it reduces the total amount of wage loss benefits that need to be paid. Some employers and insurance companies try to use vocational rehabilitation to reduce or stop benefits instead of trying to help you get back to work.
Your employer is still responsible for payment of voc rehab benefits, even if the employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance. Officers and directors of the company may be personally liable.
You are allowed a maximum of two years of vocational rehabilitation under workers’ compensation.
Q. Does the person or place that caused my injury bear any responsibility?
A. While you are limited to workers’ compensation as your exclusive remedy against your employer, you can still seek additional damages from the person or entity who directly caused your injury.
The amount recovered, after deducting a proportionate share of costs and attorney fees, will first reimburse your employer or its insurance company for benefits previously paid. The balance of the recovery will be paid directly to you and treated as an advance payment of any future workers’ compensation benefits.
These situations often arise when you are injured by defective equipment or you are involved in a motor vehicle accident that is not your fault.