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Hi! I’m Pat Marutiak. Welcome to my podcast. I’d like you to know I’ve been doing work-related injury cases for 30 years, workers’ compensation. If at any time you have any questions about a work injury, always feel free to call me for a free consultation, 989-725-8118.
Workers Comp: What is and what is not covered
The first topic I’d like to cover is what is covered and what is not under a work injury. If you are hurt on the job, you are entitled to 100% medical coverage. This means they have to pay all medical bills, and that includes even mileage to and from the doctor’s. So keep track of that. You are entitled to wage loss if you are off work more than a week. It’s paid a percentage, though. It isn’t full pay but it is tax-free. If the injury is severe enough, you’re also entitled to nursing care, which is help around the house for such things as bathing, dressing, feeding, things like that. Finally, you may be entitled to retraining as well if you cannot go back to your former type of work.
The one thing you are not entitled to for a work injury though is pain and suffering. People ask this all the time. Even if your employer is negligent, in general you cannot sue your employer for pain and suffering, but there are still important benefits you can get from workers’ compensation especially lifetime medical coverage.
Who can you see for medical treatment?
The next thing I’d like to talk about is medical treatment, who to treat with. Under the new rules, if you are hurt on the job for the first 28 days, you must see your employer’s doctor. If they send you to a doctor, you have to go to that doctor to have medical coverage. If you choose to go to your own doctor, you’re going to pay for it out of your pocket. The important thing is though after 28 days, you are entitled to treat with a doctor of your choice.
Now, the insurance company will tell you that they’re not responsible for it if you don’t see their doctor. This is not true after 28 days so don’t believe them.
Now, the insurance company will tell you that they’re not responsible for it if you don’t see their doctor. This is not true after 28 days so don’t believe them. The problem usually comes up where the doctor wants an authorization in order to treat. Now, the insurance company isn’t required to give an authorization but they are required to pay the bill, so you do want to treat with a doctor you trust so you can get better and go back to work. Always treat with your own doctor or whomever your doctor refers you to.
Recent changes in workers comp law in Michigan
Now, there’s been a lot of changes in the workers’ compensation law in the last ten to 15 years, a lot of changes. None of them had been in favor of the worker either. Things have been getting harder and harder to get benefits and the insurance companies have been having more and more excuses to try to dodge payment of what they should pay. Some of the biggest changes have to do with wage loss. It used to be if you couldn’t do your work that you were doing when you were hurt, you were automatically entitled to benefits. Now, you have to practically show you’re a hundred percent disabled, and if you’re not, you’re required to look for work within your limitations. As long as you show you can’t find that work, you’re entitled to full workers’ compensation benefits, but the insurance companies will use this to their advantage trying to tell you that you’re not looking for work. If they ever bring up the subject of looking for work, this is a red flag and you should contact a lawyer immediately.
That brings me to the next thing: looking for work. Insurance companies will tell you you have to look for jobs and put in applications ten, 15, even 20 times a week in order to qualify for benefits, and unfortunately with the changes in the law, a lot of judges tend to agree with this. But this can vary a lot, especially depending on what your restrictions are, your limitations, and what area of the state you live in, but if you do have to look for work, the important thing is to document it. Keep track of any place you put an application in, not only where you put it in, when you put it in, and if you receive any response, document that as well. They will try to reduce your wages by saying, “You could find a job at minimum wage,” for example, and so they’re going to reduce your pay accordingly or at least try. There are ways around this to protect you, too many to discuss just on a podcast, but if this issue comes up, make sure you get legal advice on the wage issue.
What do you do if you are injured?
And what to do if you’re injured? If a person is injured on the job, the first thing they need to do is to contact their employer and notify them about the injury. You should always contact your foreman, manager, or someone higher up that you were hurt. Make sure it’s documented. If you need to go to the doctor or the hospital, ask the employer to take you there. If they opt not to, then and only then can you see your own doctor and they would have to pay the bill.
Things that would be helpful to know and do before you contact me if you need legal advice, one thing that’s always helpful is bring in anything you have, whether it’s from the insurance company or the employer. Workers’ compensation insurance companies always send paperwork. Keep anything and everything they send you. Never throw it away. If the doctor gives you restrictions or a slip for being off work, always keep copies of it. Don’t just give the original to your boss. Make sure you keep copies of anything, be it from the doctor or the employer or the insurance company. Those are the main things to maintain. Lastly, again I can’t emphasize enough, make sure you treat with a doctor that you know and trust, especially after the 28-day waiting period.
Thanks for listening to the podcast of Patrick Marutiak. Again, if you have any questions whatsoever, always feel free to call for free consultation either by phone or in person. I can be contacted at 989-725-8118.