How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Lost Wages?

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Under the terms of the Grand Bargain between workers and management, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of a temporary disability. A permanent disability, like the loss of a limb, usually means a lump sum payment which, again theoretically, is based on the AWW.

However, over the past twenty years, workers’ compensation cash benefits have declined 17 percent. Medical benefits have declined even more. Typically, instead of the AWW, insurance companies use boilerplate tables to determine lost wage replacement. X permanent disability means Y dollars, regardless of the facts of the case. Similarly, X temporary disability means Y time off work, once again regardless of the facts.

Kinds of Lost Wage Replacement

Despite insurance company reliance on actuarial tables, the two-thirds wage replacement rule applies in the following kinds of disability cases:

  • Temporary Total Disability: Most fall and other trauma injury victims are TTD victims. They cannot work while they recover, and after their doctors clear them, they’re good to go. Most states allow job injury victims to choose their own doctors.
  • Temporary Partial Disability: Some victims “graduate” from TTD to TPD. They can work, but they must accept lower-paying desk jobs or reduce their hours. So, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of the difference between the victim’s old and new incomes.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: Some PPD victims reach their MMI (maximum medical improvement) but they still aren’t 100 percent better. Other PPD victims, like the ones mentioned above, lose a limb in a work-related accident.
  • Permanent Total Disability: These victims cannot work anymore, not only because of their medical conditions, but also because of their educational, vocational, and other background. Coal miners who lose legs may be completely disabled. College professors who lose legs can probably keep working.

These benefits are available if the injury was work-related. That doesn’t necessarily mean an on-the-clock injury. If Mike gets hurt at a seminar, workers’ compensation might apply to his injury.

What is the average workers’ comp neck injury settlement?

The answer to this question depends on the nature and extent of the disability. Most people recover from neck injuries, if doctors are aggressive enough. Whiplash is a good example. This head-neck injury is very common in car crashes, even in parking lot fender-benders. It doesn’t take much force to jostle the neck and damage the nerves. Since whiplash is a soft tissue injury, X-rays and other diagnostic tests don’t detect it. Left untreated, the neck soreness associated with whiplash quickly becomes neck paralysis.

Other neck injuries, like repetitive stress injuries, occur slowly and over time. Most people don’t run to see doctors as soon as they wake up with stiff necks. RSI delayed treatment, like whiplash delayed treatment, usually has grave consequences. These permanent disability workers’ comp neck injury settlements are usually higher. The settlement compensates a victim for prior lost work and medical bills, as well as future lost work and medical bills.

Temporary Disabilities

By the book, workers’ compensation pays two-thirds of lost wages for job injury victims. But insurance companies threw out the book a long time ago.

Instead of the AWW (average weekly wage), most insurance companies use set formulas to determine benefits. For example, a neck injury means X weeks off work, and based on the victim’s average income, that means Y dollars. The X and Y calculations are both off.

Assume Ron is in a fender-bender collision as he makes his deliveries. He sees a company doctor, who tells him to rest for about a week and then go back to work. If Ron has whiplash, and he probably does, he’ll need more than a week’s rest. In other words, not all neck injuries are created equally.

Now assume, as is usually the case, the insurance company only uses Ron’s past income to calculate his AWW. If Ron has part of a prorated signing bonus coming his way or he’ll miss overtime opportunities, his AWW must reflect these future losses.

Permanent Disabilities

Neck injuries aren’t usually completely debilitating. Most people can work, even with serious, lingering neck injuries. Truthfully, most victims want to work in these situations.

However, a temporary neck disability often limits work hours and work activities. That’s especially true if the victim has a bad day. So, to make up for future lost wages, workers’ compensation neck settlements usually include lump sum payments. These payments also include compensation for future medical bills.

The settlement negotiation process usually takes a while. A good negotiating rule of thumb is to always reject the first offer. The second, third, and fourth offers usually aren’t much better. So, it’s important for neck injury victims to trust their lawyers, see things through, and not lose heart. Otherwise, they often end up settling for less.

What is the Most Common Type of Lift Truck Accident?

At busy construction sites, warehouses, and other such job sites, the dreaded and feared caught-between is the most common type of lift truck accident. Workers dart back and forth and the lift truck operator, or other commercial vehicle operator, often has little experience behind the wheel. That’s especially true if the driver is “just moving” the vehicle from one parking space to another. Therefore, victims are “caught between” a vehicle, like a lift truck, and a fixed object, like a retaining wall.

Such accidents often crush internal organs, as well as bones. Punctured lungs and ruptured spleens, two of the most serious kinds of internal injuries, are especially common. Furthermore, crushed bones are much more difficult to treat than broken bones. Surgeons typically use metal pins, plates, and other parts to reconstruct crushed bones. Since the surgical recovery time is longer, physical therapy is longer, more difficult, and more expensive.

If you’ve been in lift truck accident and experienced a neck injury, it’s time to talk to a workers’ comp lawyer to see how you can get your lost wages covered.  Book a free consultation through AskLegally today.

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Bret Thurman

Bret is a former lawyer and full-time writer who knows how to simplify complex topics. He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin. For over twenty years, he handled a wide variety of cases, including criminal defense, personal injury, family law, and consumer bankruptcy.

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