How Long Does A Worker Have To File A Workers’ Compensation Claim?
There are several different components of a workers’ compensation claim and a lot of them have their own statutes of limitation or, what we call in Louisiana, prescriptive periods. For a lot of workers’ compensation rights, you have one year from the date of the accident. You have one year to file a claim in order to get indemnity benefits, which are weekly payments for when you’re disabled. That one year can be enlarged by certain actions of the employer. If the employer pays a weekly indemnity benefit after the accident on its own, the worker will have one year from the date of the last payment.
You generally have three years to file a claim for medical benefits. It is advisable to speak to an attorney immediately because, in these cases, prescriptive periods can vary and evidence can disappear.
Walk Me Through The Process Of A Workers’ Compensation Claim In Louisiana?
The typical workers’ compensation claim starts with the client coming to our office and telling us about their accident. We research their employer and find out who their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is. We send out a letter of representation that day to the employer and its insurance company. Then, we immediately start making sure that the employer and the insurance company are giving our client the workers’ compensation benefits that he or she is entitled to. The two most common benefits are medical treatment and a weekly indemnity benefit.
We advise the employee on how to properly document his or her injuries. Simply saying that you went to the emergency room isn’t enough. We need the ER doctor, a personal physician, or a treating physician to issue a work slip. The insurance company is not obligated to start indemnity payments until they receive evidence from the client’s doctor stating that he should not be working or should be working light duty. Then, in the typical non-contested case, the client begins treatment, which also needs to be documented.
There’s a lot of back and forth between doctor’s offices and the workers’ compensation insurer. Many doctor’s offices don’t quite understand the workers’ compensation process and sometimes we have to facilitate that communication between doctors and the insurance company. The doctors are requesting approval for various treatments and the insurance companies are approving or denying those treatments. We follow a claim right through to the day that the doctor says that our client has reached his or her maximum medical improvement. That’s not always to say that they’re just as good as they were the day before the accident, but that there’s really not anything more, in the way of medical treatment, to be done for the client. At that point, we review with the client what limitations they still have, which problems they’re still suffering from, and which further medical or workers’ compensation benefits they’re entitled to. We then help them negotiate with the insurance company to make sure they get those things.
What Damages Are Potentially Recoverable In A Workers’ Compensation Case?
This is an insurance case, so we’re getting benefits, rather than damages. You can get a weekly benefit that equals, in Louisiana, two-thirds of your income. However, this comes with a limit. The maximum this year is $657 per week. That is one thing that we can recover for our client. The other is medical bills.
One fairly common scenario is that a client who was working in a heavy duty capacity now is restricted to light or medium duty work. That person may be entitled to a supplemental earning benefit for up to 10 years post-accident. That would be calculated as two-thirds of the difference between his pre-accident earnings and his post-accident earnings. This is something that we can often negotiate into a lump sum payment from the insurance company.
Can An Employee Who Is Already Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits Also Receive Disability, Unemployment And/Or Social Security Disability?
An employee can’t receive unemployment compensation while receiving indemnity payments. He can receive long term disability from his disability insurer. With respect to social security disability, he can receive it, but social security may get credit for the benefit he is getting in the workers’ compensation case. That’s something an attorney will work with the client to calculate.
For more information on Filing A Workers’ Compensation In LA, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (225) 308-7004 today.
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