Every day you report to your job and work your hardest. In return, your employer has an obligation to provide you with a safe work environment. This includes proper training and the right tools to do your job. But work injuries can and do happen, even when precautions are taken.
When many people think of work injuries, they think of manufacturing and construction. While it’s true that these industries have more work-related injuries than others, you can be hurt in any work environment including offices, stores, and restaurants. According to the National Safety Council, 12,600 workers are injured in the U.S. each and every day. That comes out to just over 4.5 million workers every year.
Being injured at work can mean medical bills and time off of work. If you are injured while on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can cover expenses related to your injuries.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation, also called “workers’ comp,” is a type of insurance many employers are required to carry. For the most part, workers’ comp is regulated at the state level and laws vary. There are a few occupations that have their own set of regulations, including federal employees and certain railroad workers.
Workers’ comp is meant to provide certain benefits if you are injured on the job, or become sick with a job-related illness. Job-related illnesses may occur over time and include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and cancer after exposure to certain chemicals. These benefits will typically pay for:
● Any current and future medical bills associated with your injury or illness
● Physical therapy and rehabilitation
● Current and future wages, while you are unable to work
● Medication and medical devices
If you don’t agree with the amount the insurance is offering you or how your case is being handled, you should seek legal advice. Pursuing a workers’ comp settlement may be in your best interest.
What is the average workers’ comp settlement?
It’s normal to wonder what most people receive for their workers’ comp settlement. However, determining the average dollar amount for all workers’ comp cases in the U.S. probably wouldn’t be a helpful number for you, or anyone, to know. Keep in mind that workers’ comp injuries can range from a sprained ankle to loss of life, and everything in between. Additionally, two people with the same injury may have very different outcomes. For one person, a broken ankle might require a few weeks in a cast, with no lingering effects. And yet for another person, a broken ankle may require surgery and never heal properly.
Often when people ask about settlement amounts, what they really want to know is, “How much workers’ comp will I receive?”
Understanding your workers’ comp benefits
We know there are numerous workers’ comp settlement calculators and settlement charts on the internet. It is best to take these figures with a grain of salt. Workers’ comp benefits are complex. While you can calculate present and future wage losses, it may not yet be clear what your medical expenses will be. This is especially true if you were recently injured.
Your benefits are ultimately based on your wages, your medical expenses, and the extent of your injury. Someone who injured their foot but could return to a desk job can expect to receive less than someone who lost a limb.
If you are hurt on the job, your injuries will either be classified as temporary or permanent and total or partial. Which category your injuries determine the amount of your benefits and how long you can expect to receive benefits. How these categories are defined may vary by state, but this is a general idea of how these terms are used.
If your injury is considered temporary partial, you may be expected to return to work right away, but with some restrictions. You may be able to work fewer hours each day, have weight restrictions, or be assigned light duty. Typically, there is the expectation that you will be able to return to your normal work duties at some point.
If your injury is temporary total, that means you cannot work at all right now. You are recuperating, but you are expected to recover enough that you will be able to return to your job.
This means that your injury or illness is permanent, but you may be able to pursue employment. While you might not be able to return to your former occupation, you could be trained for another job.
Your injuries are to the extent that you are not able to work again.
When considering your injuries, your doctors and the insurance company will use the term Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). You reach your MMI when you have recovered to the best point possible. This may or may not mean that you are completely or totally recovered. You may reach your MMI and still have lingering effects from your injury or illness.
Pursuing a workers’ comp settlement
In a workers’ comp case, there are three parties involved: you, your employer, and the workers’ comp insurance company. Everyone has their own best interest at heart, which may or may not be your best interest. If you disagree with what you’re being offered, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney.
A settlement can either be a structured payment plan or a one-time lump sum. Which settlement is right for you takes careful consideration. You should think about your age, your family, and if your injury or disease is expected to be life-limiting.
What if I think the injury was my fault?
Keep in mind that what you “think” is your only perception, and may or may not matter from a legal standpoint. Dealing with an injury or illness takes its toll emotionally. You may feel guilty because you are missing work. Maybe you are in an important position and your absence is causing your employer hardship. It’s important to not go back to work before you are physically and mentally ready.
Anytime you are injure