The answers to questions regarding workers’ compensation in Nebraska can be complicated and should be answered on a case-by-case basis by an experienced Nebraska workers’ compensation lawyer. That being said, here is a list of brief answers to the Top 9 workers’ compensation questions.
1. What Benefits am I Eligible for Under Nebraska Workers’ Comp Law?
Workers’ compensation in Nebraska entitles an injured worker to 4 primary benefits:
Medical Expenses – In most cases, you are entitled to have 100% of your medical expenses paid for by workers’ compensation insurance, including mileage to and from your treating physician. However, the care you receive must be necessary and you must follow the rules governing your choice of physician.
Temporary Disability Benefits – If you must take time off from work to recuperate after an injury, you must be paid a percentage of your lost wages for the duration. These benefits are paid weekly and are based on what you were being paid up to the time you were injured.
Permanent Disability Benefits – If after you have recovered from your injuries as much you will, you are left with a residual impairment or some physical limitations, you are entitled to be compensated to the extent that you are impaired. This is in some ways in lieu of being compensated for pain and suffering, which is not compensable under workers compensation insurance in Nebraska.
Vocational Rehabilitative Training – If your injury prevents you from returning to the kind of work you did before you were injured, your employer has a duty to help you get back to work. This can be as simple as identifying another job you can perform within the company, or it can mean sending you to school to learn new skills.
Death Benefits – If an accident at work results in a worker losing his or her life, the worker’s surviving spouse and children may be entitled to receive wrongful death benefits, as well as, funeral expenses.
2. How are Temporary Disability Benefits Calculated?
The process starts by determining your average weekly wage. This is done by averaging out your weekly gross wages for the six months immediately prior to your injury. If you are not able to return to work while recovering from your injury, you are entitled to receive weekly temporary disability benefits in the amount of 2/3 of your average weekly gross wages. However, there is a maximum amount that will be paid per week for these benefits. This maximum changes every year and is currently about $700 per week.
3. Will I Receive Temporary Disability Benefits Immediately?
Temporary Disability Benefits will not be paid until you have missed at least one full week of work. However, if you eventually are off for more than 6 weeks, you may be entitled to be retrospectively compensated for the first week as well.
4. What Are Temporary Partial Disability Benefits?
If once you return to work, you are earning less money than you earned before you were injured, whether it be because the number of hours you can work are restricted or because you are placed on light duty, you may be eligible to receive temporary partial disability benefits in the amount to 2/3 of the difference between your average weekly wage before the injury and the amount you are paid after returning to work on restricted duty.
5. How Long Will I Receive Temporary Disability Benefits?
Under normal circumstance, you should receive temporary disability benefits until you return to work, or until Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI is the point where your condition has improved as much as it is going to. Once you have reached MMI, your temporary disability benefits will cease, whether you have returned to work or not. At this point, you may be entitled to receive permanent disability benefits.
6. How Are Permanent Disability Benefits Calculated?
Permanent disability benefits are paid in weekly installments with both the amount and duration of these benefits being primarily based on which part of your body was injured and to what extent.
If the injury is to you a hand, arm, leg, finger or toe, you may be entitled to compensation in the amount of 2/3 of your average weekly wages multiplied by an amount predetermined by the workers’ compensation statutes and depending on the actual body part affected.
If the injury is to your back, neck, head, or to your body as whole, calculating permanent disability benefits is a lot more difficult. This is because the calculation must then take into account other factors, such as how the impairment will affect your ability to earn a living and support yourself.
This process is called evaluating your loss of earning capacity and means that the amount of permanent disability benefits payable to each injured person for these injuries will always be different, not only because it involves the unique severity of that person’s injury, but also because it must take into account that person’s unique educational background and work history.
7. Does it Make a Difference Whether I or My Employer Was at Fault For My Accident?
The short answer to this question is no. The workers’ compensation system was originally intended to provide coverage for people who get hurt on the job, regardless of fault. So, unless you were intoxicated or willfully and deliberately negligent in causing your own injury, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits without having to prove that your employer did anything wrong.
On the other hand, if your employer was at fault, you are still only entitled to the same workers’ compensation benefits. You don’t get to recover more damages, even if your employer’s fault was significant. This is called the “exclusive remedy provision” of workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy. In other words, it’s the only way to recover damages against your employer for injuries that occur at work.
You may, however, bring a third party lawsuit against anyone else besides your employer (or a coworker) who may have had something to do with you being injured. By doing so, you may obtain compensation above and beyond that which is available to you under workers’ compensation. But you cannot sue your employer outside of the workers’ compensation system.
8. Do I need a lawyer to handle my Workers compensation claim?
The answer to this question is often yes, but not always. People hire lawyers in workers’ compensation cases for one of two fundamental reasons:
- Because their claim has been denied, partially or totally; or
- Because they are simply not comfortable handling the claim on their own.
If the fact that you were injured at work is not being disputed, your claim has not been denied, and you feel that you are being treated fairly, you may not need an attorney to assist you. However, if your work injury is being disputed, your claim has been denied, or if you simply don’t feel comfortable handling the claim on your own, you should hire an attorney to assist you.
Above of all, if you are not familiar with the workers’ compensation process and don’t know your way around the system, then you need to decide if it’s worth trying to go it alone and possibly lose out on substantial benefits due to your inexperience when you can hire an attorney who can ensure that you receive the maximum amount of benefits available to you.
9. How Can a Workers Compensation Attorney Help?
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the most out of workers’ compensation insurance. You should never assume that your employer or their insurance company will do this for you. If you have any concerns as to the amount of benefits you are being paid, when these benefits begin, when they cease, or the impairment rating you have been given, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Learn more about Jay C. Elliott’s Workers’ Compensation Lawyer services » Or Call Jay Today at 308-532-1963.