Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Lost Wages?February 16, 2023
If you suffer a serious work-related injury or illness that prevents you from being able to return to work for an extended period of time, the expenses associated with the illness or injury can accumulate very quickly. Medical bills, prescription medications and physical therapy are just a few examples of expenses that start to pile up after a job-related injury or illness. In addition, when you are unable to return to work, it means that you are not collecting a much-needed paycheck. Fortunately, Workers’ Compensation provides a range of benefits to injured workers, including lost wages. An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer will assist you with the claims process, determine the percentage of lost wages that you are entitled to, and secure the financial benefits that you deserve.
What Are the Different Types of Wage Loss Benefits?
When an employee is injured in the workplace, the lost wages are paid as disability income benefits. The amount that the employee will receive will depend on the severity of the injury and how disabled they are. The following are the four types of disability benefits and a general explanation of each:
- Temporary total disability: If you are unable to return to work in any capacity for a minimum of seven days, you are entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits on the eighth day. This benefit provides two-thirds of your weekly wage up to a maximum cap. The current cap in Maryland for 2022 is $1,338.00.
- Temporary partial disability: When you are able to return to work, but not in the same capacity or you need to work fewer hours, you may be earning less money. With temporary partial disability benefits, you are eligible for two-thirds of the difference between your weekly wage before the injury and what you are earning now.
- Permanent total disability: If your illness or injury is so severe that you are permanently and totally disabled, and unable to ever return to work, you may be entitled to receive disability benefits for the rest of your life. In most cases, the payments will be the same as what you would receive for a temporary total disability, which is two-thirds of your weekly wage.
- Permanent partial disability: This benefit is meant to compensate you for a permanent bodily impairment caused by a work-related accident. There are a range of factors that are considered when calculating the weekly benefit, including the specific body part that was affected and your average weekly wage at the time of the injury. You will only receive benefits for a specified amount of time based on the nature and severity of the injury.
The Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier will continue to pay temporary benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), you are able to make at least 80 percent of the wages you were earning at the time of the accident, or you are placed on full duty by your Workers’ Compensation physician.
How Do I Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Lost Wages?
There are a number of steps you must take in order to collect the lost wages benefits to which you are entitled, including the following:
- Seek immediate medical treatment: If the injury is serious, go to the nearest emergency room so you can be thoroughly examined by a skilled healthcare provider. The physician will diagnose the injury or illness and recommend the best treatment plan. Make sure that you obtain copies of all medical records as this will provide valuable evidence for a Workers’ Compensation claim.
- Report the injury to your employer: You have 30 days to report the injury to your employer, although it is highly recommended that you report the injury as soon as possible. Any time an employee misses three or more days of work due to a work-related injury or illness, the employer must file an accident report with the Workers’ Compensation Commission within ten days of finding out about the accident. If the injury caused the employee to become disabled, the employer must report the incident immediately.
- File a Workers’ Compensation claim: In order to file a claim, you will need to fill out an Employee Claim Form and mail it to the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. Your employer should be able to provide you with the necessary form, or you can submit your claim online. Once your claim is approved, you will start to receive weekly disability benefits. If your claim is denied for any reason, a highly skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer can assist you with the process of appealing the claim.
What If I Lose Access to Overtime?
If you depend on overtime payments to cover the increasingly high cost of living, a serious injury could jeopardize your ability to work those additional hours. In some cases, your doctor may put it in writing that you should not work overtime, even if you have recovered to the point that you are able to return to work. Collecting wage benefits for lost overtime can be a complicated process. Generally, a Workers’ Compensation claim only covers your average weekly wage based on your usual wage rate and the number of hours you work each week. This does not factor in overtime hours. However, if you were scheduled to work overtime on a regular basis, it is possible that overtime pay might be factored into the Workers’ Compensation wage replacement benefit.
The following are two examples of lost overtime wages, and how it impacts the employee’s ability to be compensated for lost overtime income:
- Expected overtime: If you generally work two hours of overtime each day, and it has been incorporated into the weekly schedule by your employer, it is possible that you will be compensated for some lost overtime through your temporary disability benefits since the overtime hours and pay are an expected part of your schedule and weekly paycheck.
- Voluntary overtime: If you asked your boss if you could work three to four hours of overtime each week, but it was not scheduled or expected, it is unlikely that you will be compensated for the lost overtime.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Lost Wages if a Worker Suffers a Fatality?
If an employee suffers a severe injury that results in a tragic fatality, the surviving family members of the deceased may be eligible for death benefit that includes lost wages. By filing a wrongful death claim, the dependents of the deceased employee are entitled to receive two-thirds of the workers’ weekly wage up to a maximum cap. The worker’s spouse will be eligible to collect wage benefits until they remarry, and the children will receive benefits until they turn 18. If the worker was not married, and had no children, the benefits may go to their parents, grandparents, or grandchildren if they were financially dependent on the worker.
How Long Am I Eligible to Collect Benefits for Lost Wages?
If you are receiving temporary disability benefits, you are only eligible to collect payments for up to 450 weeks. However, if your benefits are about to end, you may apply for permanent disability. Permanent partial disability benefits last for up to 600 weeks, and permanent total disability benefits can last for the rest of your life.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me Secure Lost Wages?
If you suffered any type of injury or illness that has prevented you from being able to work and collect a paycheck, it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer as soon as possible. In addition to ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve for your lost wages, they will assist you if any of the following issues arise:
- Your Workers’ Compensation claim is denied.
- Your physician declares you fit to return to work before you are ready.
- You are told that you are not eligible to file a claim.
- You have been accused of fraud.
- You have a pre-existing condition in addition to a workplace injury.
- You do not understand how the claims process works.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Secure Lost Wages for Injured Workers
If you were injured at work, and you are concerned about lost wages, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our dedicated legal team will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.