Indiana Reform Bill Would Speed Up Worker’s Comp Payments

Synopsis

  • An Indiana workers’ compensation reform bill, S.B. 290, passed the
    state Senate 47-2 in February 2018 and now sits in the House waiting for a vote.
  • The bill would establish a time frame for workers’ compensation payments
    and penalize employers who do not pay on time and also require employers
    to send remote employees coverage information in an electronic format.
    It would also allow for electronic filing of certain documents and offer
    some ease for permanently disabled workers to reapply less often.
  • Worker’s compensation benefits are provided to help an employee return
    to work after a job-related injury but also provides benefits to dependents
    if an employee passes or is seriously injured while at work. Most injured
    employees are entitled to some workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Employers are not allowed to fire employees for filing a workers’
    compensation (also referred to as workers’ comp in this article)
    claim or retaliate against them.

Indiana Workers’ Comp Reform Bill Would Require Businesses to Pay
Injured Employees Sooner

Injuries can often occur when working conditions are not regularly monitored
for safety and compliance per standards of the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA). These are guidelines and standards put in place to prevent injuries.
Because these injuries still occur, Indiana state law requires most businesses
to have workers’ compensation insurance. Employers must provide
workers with medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if they are injured
on the job using accident insurance paid for by them and used for employees.

A new Indiana workers’ compensation reform bill may ensure those
benefits come through faster than current release dates.
S.B. 290 was passed in the state Senate 47-2 in early February and has now moved
onto the House. The bill would establish a time frame for workers’
comp payments to be released and penalize employers who do not pay on
time, according to the bill’s latest texts. The bill would also
require employers to send remote employees workers’ comp coverage
information in an electronic format. It would also allow the electronic
filing of certain documents with the Workers’ Compensation Board
and would require permanently disabled workers to reapply to the second
injury fund for a wage replacement benefit every three years instead of
every 150 weeks.

These benefits are provided to help an employee return to work but also
provides benefits to dependents if an employee passes or is seriously
injured as the result of a job-related injury. Almost all on the job injuries
will be covered. Although many employers do not understand this point,
a workers’ compensation claim cannot be denied because it was the
employee’s fault. Workers’ comp is a “no fault”
system. So, if an employee has been injured in a work accident they must:

  1. Seek medical attention immediately.
  2. Notify employer and file an injury or accident report.
  3. Contact a workers’ comp accident lawyer at Wagner Reese to assist
    in gathering evidence and filing a suit.
  4. Collect statements from witnesses and coworkers at the event.
  5. Never sign or agree to anything an employer gives them without first consulting
    with a lawyer.

Indiana employers’ private insurers administer and pay claims to
injured workers. The maximum rate is set by the legislature and changes,
sometimes, every year. As of July 1, 2016, the maximum average weekly
wage is $1170, so the maximum wage replacement benefits weekly would be
$780.00. If an employee is injured while working at a job, it is likely
they are entitled to some of the workers’ compensation benefits
outlined below.

Medical Treatment Is an Important Benefit

  • Medical treatment will be provided until you reach “maximum medical
    improvement.”
  • Employer has the right to direct your treatment. In other words, the employer
    or its insurance company will select your doctors.
  • Employer or the worker’s compensation carrier may hire a Nurse Case
    Manager (“NCM”) to schedule and attend your doctor appointments.
    Cooperate with this person but remember that the NCM works for the insurance company.

Weekly Disability Benefit

  • Average Weekly Wage is your average wage for the 52 weeks before the injury
    and includes overtime, bonuses, tips, and benefits.
  • This benefit is paid at 2/3 of your Average Weekly Wage up to a maximum
    of $650 per week (date of loss after 7/1/09), $694 per week (date of loss
    after 7/1/14), $736 per week (date of loss after 7/1/15), or $780 per
    week (date of loss 7/1/16).
  • 7 day waiting period (i.e., you do not get paid for the first 7 days off
    unless you end up being off more than 21 days).
  • Terminated when you are released to light duty, and your employer can accommodate
    the light duty restrictions, or when you reach “maximum medical
    improvement.”

Permanent Partial Impairment

  • A lump sum settlement for permanent injuries can be received when the doctor
    releases you for good.
  • This benefit is usually based on a doctor’s “impairment rating.”
  • You have the right to have your own doctor given you a second opinion regarding
    your impairment rating. You must pay for this, but a second opinion can
    result in a higher settlement if your doctor thinks you have a higher
    impairment.

Permanent and Total Disability

  • Permanently and totally disabled means that you are unable to perform “any
    reasonable employment.”
  • This can be extremely difficult to prove – but it does not mean that
    you are “unable to return to your old job.”
  • Benefit paid is 500 weeks of your weekly disability pay up to a maximum
    of $347,000 (minus disability benefits already paid).

Filing an Indiana Workers’ Comp Claim

Like other personal injury cases in Indiana, there are time limits to file
a claim. Under the
Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act, injured employees have two years from the date of injury to file an
Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Indiana Work Comp Board. However, the time to file can be extended if temporary total disability
(TTD) benefits are being received.

Employers are not allowed to fire employees for filing a workers’
compensation claim or retaliate against them. But if they are fired because
their injury prevents them from performing their job, then the employer
or the insurer would be obligated to pay out Temporary Total Disability payments.

Consult an Experienced Workers’ Comp Attorney

Four out of every 100 workers are
injured or killed each year on the job in Indiana. If you or family member are one of them,
it is recommended that you consult an attorney as soon as possible, especially
if you are contemplating filing a claim or if you feel that your rights
under the
Workers’ Compensation Act are not being upheld, or feel you have been wrongly discharged.

With years of experience and proven results, Stephen Wagner and Jason Reese
can handle your Indiana work injury claim. Call the law firm of Wagner
Reese today (888) 204-8440 and discuss your case at no cost.