A Santa Rosa workmans comp lawyer can help injured employees receive compensation that will replace some or all of their lost wages
In California, employees who are injured at work are entitled to compensation. Workmans comp insurance (known in California as workers’ compensation), offers a variety of benefits to injured workers, without regard to fault. One of the most important benefits is compensation for lost wages.
The lost wages an injured worker suffers as a result of not being able to work are at least partially replaced through a temporary disability benefit. That benefit generally continues until the injury heals or when the injured worker returns to work.
If the injury does not fully heal, a second form of disability benefit is available. These are known as permanent disability benefits and are meant to provide injured workers compensation for suffering permanent functional limitations as a result of the work injury.
Both workers comp benefits are important, but they are not always easy to calculate. A Santa Rosa workers’ compensation lawyer can help injured workers understand their rights.
Temporary Wage Replacement
Total Temporary Disability (TTD) benefits are intended to replace at least a portion of lost wages when a job-related injury prevents an employee from working. Some injured workers may receive TTD benefits which comes close to their regular “take-home pay”, but the amount of TTD benefits an injured worker receives will depend on what her wages were prior to the injury.
An injured worker is entitled to temporary disability benefits after missing three days of work or spending one night in a hospital due to a work-related injury. The right to receive those benefits is triggered by reporting the injury to the employer. It is important to report the injury immediately so that there is no delay in receiving TTD benefits.
After receiving the employee’s report of being injured, the employer must provide the employee a workers compensation claim form. After the injured worker fills out the form and returns it to the employer, the employer’s insurance company will assign a claims administrator to the case. The claims administrator is responsible for making sure that TTD benefits are paid.
The benefit is calculated at two-thirds of one’s gross wages at the time of injury, subject to a maximum and minimum weekly benefit. Gross wages are calculated by considering the injured worker’s income from all sources, before taxes and benefits are deducted. TTD benefits are tax free, so they are sometimes comparable to one’s take home pay.
For injuries that occurred after 01/01/17, the maximum weekly TTD benefit is $1,215.27 per week. The weekly minimum TTD benefit for 2018 is $182.29. Minimum and maximum weekly TTD benefits are generally adjusted annually.
The claims administrator must calculate TTD benefits based on the income received by the injured worker from all sources. That includes overtime pay, commissions, bonuses, tips, meal and lodging allowances, as well as other sources. TTD benefits are also based on wages earned in second jobs, including part-time jobs, even if the injury did not occur while working at those other jobs.
The claims administrator must obtain wage information from the employer where the injury occurred, but the injured worker will need to give the claims administrator proof of wages earned from other sources. If there is a dispute about the amount of TTD benefits that should be paid, a Santa Rosa workers comp attorney can help the injured worker resolve the conflict.
Permanent Disability Benefits
When an injured worker’s medical condition improves and allows her to return to her former job, TTD benefits will end. In some cases, however, the injury does not fully improve and the injured worker cannot return to work, or has physical limitations that do not allow her to continue performing the same kind of work. In those cases, the injured worker is entitled to receive Permanent Disability benefits as compensation.
Permanent disability benefits are paid when it is determined that there will be no further improvement in the injured worker’s medical condition. Once that determination is made, the TTD benefits end, and the permanent disability benefits begin.
Many factors are taken into account when calculating the total value of an injured worker’s permanent disability benefits. The nature and extent of the permanent disability, and the limitations it imposes, are the primary factors. The nature of the injured worker’s job and wages are also important. All of these factors help the claims administrator and the injured worker’s attorney to negotiate the impairment rating that determines the value of the permanent disability benefits.
Injured workers often settle their permanent disability benefits claim for a lump sum of money. Negotiating a favorable impairment rating requires knowledge of the law, familiarity with medical conditions, and experience working with physicians who prepare key medical reports. The workers compensation lawyer at Santa Rosa’s Kneisler & Schondel can help injured workers recover their lost wages through temporary and permanent disability benefits. Tell us about your case by calling (707) 542-5132 or by submitting our online contact form.