Compensable injuries refer to physical injuries from work accidents. Occupational diseases that result from exposure to toxic substances at work are also compensable. Under the workers' compensation system, employers must provide insurance to pay lost wages and medical expenses when employees sustain work related injuries. Workers compensation laws vary with each state, although some features remain consistent.
Indemnity benefits compensate for the loss of your income from work or your earning ability. You can get temporary or permanent indemnity benefits, depending on the nature of your injuries. You'll get temporary indemnity benefits if you're expected to recover and return to work.
Typically a treating physician and an independent doctor evaluate your injuries. If they determine that you can return to work but you'll remain partially disabled, you'll receive permanent partial disability benefits. But, if they determine that you will never recover and you can't do any sought of work, they'll give you a permanent total disability status, and you'll receive benefits accordingly.
Indemnity payments are often a percentage of your salary and there's often a maximum payout amount. For example, Pennsylvania workers receive 66.6 percent of their weekly earning, with a maximum weekly payout of $951. New Jersey workers receive 70 percent of their average weekly wages, but this amount can't exceed 75 percent of the state's average weekly wages.
Medical benefits cover expenses incurred for the treatment of the injuries or illnesses. This includes hospital admissions, doctor visits and prescriptions. In some cases, transportation to and from medical appointments is also covered. In the course of the injured workers medical treatment, the physician might recommend physical therapy. This might include exercise workouts guided by a physical therapist. These sessions are also covered through workers compensation medical benefits.
Often, the goal of workers compensation programs is to get you back to work, so you can earn a living. Sometimes, however, the injuries prevent you from returning to your previous job. If this is the case, you might get vocational rehabilitation benefits. A caseworker might work with you and help you find alternative work. You also might receive training so you can return to the workforce.
You might consider death benefits a fourth category. Again, payments vary by state. The state laws of Texas, New Jersey, California and New York, for example, all provide medical and death compensation benefits. Death benefits often differ by the percentage of the workers' average weekly wage. Beneficiaries in New Jersey receive 70 percent of the decedent's weekly wage. But, beneficiaries in New York State get 66.7 percent of the average weekly wages the decedent earned during the year before the accident. In Texas, beneficiaries get 75 percent of the decedent's average weekly wages.
Some states also pay funeral expenses under their workers' compensation program. Talk with an accident and personal injury lawyer (such as Robinson & Kole) to find about about the workers' compensation benefits available to you.