You work hard to make a living, and maybe you've been lucky enough to put away some savings. Or perhaps things are a bit tighter, and when you find yourself out of work because you've been injured in a workplace accident you begin to worry about how you're going to get by.
Unfortunately, there is no government program in place to cover the time between when your paychecks stop coming and workers' compensation benefits start arriving. In fact, the Louisiana Workforce Commission offers this advice to the question of what a claimant is supposed to do for money while waiting to receive benefits in the case of a disputed workers' compensation claim: “Assistance, such as food stamps, may be available through social services. You may also want to contact local charities or churches in your area.”
The other issue is the reduced amount of the disability benefits available under Louisiana workers' compensation law. These are set at a two-thirds of your average weekly wage but are subject to maximum and minimum limits. For 2023, the maximum benefit is $771.00 per week and the minimum is $206.00 per week. This means that even when you do receive your workers' compensation benefits, they will be less than what you were earning before your accident occurred.
Practical Steps You Can Take to Help Yourself
First, it helps to know when you can expect to begin to receive your workers' compensation wage benefits. Assuming your employer (or its insurer) approves your claim, this will happen on the fourteenth day after your employer knows about your injury. You won't be paid for the first seven days unless you are out of work for more than fourteen days in a row. Once you receive the first wage benefits payment, you'll be paid regularly thereafter until you are able to return to work.
This leads to the first tip to getting paid as quickly as possible: report your injury immediately. The sooner you report it to your employer, the sooner the clock starts ticking on that first workers' compensation payment, and the less time you'll have to spend without money coming in.
The second tip is to get medical attention for your injury as soon as possible – and don't pay for the treatment, because treatment costs for work-related accidental injuries are covered by workers' compensation benefits. Also, if you delay treatment your employer might try to use that against you, claiming that the delay has contributed to your inability to return to work.
The third tip is to make sure your medical provider addresses your work status and provides a written work excuse or work restrictions (if applicable). Provide this work excuse/restrictions to your employer or adjuster to support your claim for indemnity benefits.
Keep track of your mileage, too. You're entitled to be reimbursed at a set rate (62 cents per mile as of July 1, 2022) for driving to your doctor's and physical therapist appointments, to the pharmacy to pick up your prescribed medication, and for other medically related purposes. Mileage adds up, so record your trips and submit them to your workers' compensation carrier regularly.
What to Do if Your Workers' Compensation Check Doesn't Come
If your workers' compensation claim is denied by your employer or its insurer, or if checks begin to come but then suddenly stop, contact the Delsa Law Firm, LLC, as soon as possible to schedule a free, no obligation consultation where you can discuss your situation. Attorney Delsa has years of experience representing responsible workers such as yourself who have been injured in a workplace accident and find their workers' compensation claims denied or cut short without valid reason.
You can reach Attorney Delsa and the Delsa Law Firm, LLC at (985) 882-1222, or through our online contact form. Don't delay, you have rights, and Attorney Delsa can help you assert them!