How many weeks am I entitled to be paid if I get hurt at work?
There are two types of disability payments, temporary and permanent. The law allows up to 450 weeks of payments total up to the state maximum for the year of the injury. The maximum for an injury occurring in 2013 is $202,104. The benefits generally start as weekly or bi-weekly checks until the temporary period ends and the permanent period begins. The change from temporary to permanent usually occurs when a person reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This is normally determined by the treating physician when they feel that treatment has reached a plateau (unfortunately this does not always mean complete healing and leaves a permanent disability).
There are also two types of permanent injury. The first is known as scheduled member. This would be a body part like an arm, leg, finger, eyeball, etc. The second is whole body. This would be like the head, back, neck, brain, etc. If you have a permanent injury, the way it is paid is completely different in a scheduled case than a whole body case.
In a scheduled member case, even if you go back to work without restrictions, you will be entitled to minimum compensation if you have an impairment rating assigned by a doctor. There are no minimums in a whole body case even with a severe rating.
In a whole body case the restrictions and ability to return to work will be the more important factors in determining loss of wage earning capacity which equates to compensation.
Whole body cases are limited to 450 weeks, while scheduled member cases are limited to 200 weeks of compensation, or less, depending on the body part that is injured.
Often a check for permanent disability looks exactly like a check for temporary disability. The weekly benefit amount does not change.
Also, it is possible to get permanent disability in a lump sum all at one time, but the way to go about it depends on the type of injury.
These concepts can be difficult and legalistic. You should expect your insurance company to be nice in hopes that you don’t get armed with legal advice from an experienced lawyer. You should NOT expect your insurance company to give you accurate legal advice as to what your permanent disability claim is worth. You should never try to navigate through these issues without getting some free advice on what it is really all about and how it applies to your particular case.
Rogen K. Chhabra