Workers Compensation

Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy that provides (1) 2/3 of your average weekly wage while you are physically unable to work due to an injury on the job (called Temporary Total Disability), and (2) all of your medical expenses related to your job injury. Average weekly wage is based upon your earnings for the 4 full weeks before the accident for hourly workers, for the 26 weeks before the accident for commission workers, and for 52 weeks before the accident for salaried employees. Temporary Total Disability benefits are payable either weekly or bi-weekly, depending on how your wages were paid. The first payment is due two weeks after your employer received notice of the injury. The first week is not owed unless you are disabled for at least 6 weeks, at which time the first week of benefits is paid. If your doctor releases you back to work with restrictions, the law provides for a wage-loss benefit (called Supplemental Earnings Benefits). This benefit is two-thirds of the difference between what you were earning before the accident (your Average Weekly Wage) and what you are able to earn after the doctor releases you with restrictions, unless your employer or another employer offers you a job within your restrictions at 90% or more of your pre-injury wages. As a rule, if your doctor releases you to work with restrictions, the employer/insurer will appoint a vocational counselor to conduct a labor market survey to determine your post-injury wage earning capacity. The vocational counselor typically uses your doctor’s written restrictions, and in some cases a functional capacity evaluation (examination by a physical therapist to determine your ability to perform certain physical functions), to locate jobs within your geographical area (30 miles) which are actually available within your restrictions. Louisiana workers’ compensation laws provide other benefits as well under certain circumstances such as cash penalties, attorney fees, and benefits for loss of all or part of finger, toe, hand, arm, foot, leg, or eye You are allowed to choose one doctor in each specialty, paid for by the employer/insurer, to treat your injuries. The employer/insurer can require you to be examined periodically by their doctor. Claims for indemnity benefits (Temporary Total Disability and Supplemental Earnings Benefits) and for medical benefits have different time periods within which they must be filed or else they prescribe (that is, your rights are lost due to the passage of time). Because the law governing these time periods is complex, no attempt to describe them will be made here. If you have any doubt in this regard, please contact our office for advice.