Of all the benefits available to injured workers under our Workers’ Compensation Act, this is one of the most valuable. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely pay out wage-loss disability benefits voluntarily. In fact, in order for the insurance folks and their lawyers to ever pay what they owe in this regard, they basically have to be forced to do so. Needless to say, it becomes very difficult for an injured worker acting alone in a claim to get this done.
If an employee suffers an injury that causes disability to the body as a whole (usually neck, shoulder, hip, back, skin and/or head); the injury qualifies for an impairment rating under the AMA Guides; and the employee has permanent work restrictions making it so he or she can’t return to previous employment, that employee is entitled to ask a Workers’ Compensation Judge for an award of benefits based upon a loss of future earning capacity. As a simple example of how this could work, if a diesel mechanic making $20.00 an hour suffers a back injury; gets a 10% whole-body impairment rating; is assigned permanent, light-duty work restrictions; and is only able to get a job that pays $10.00 an hour, a Judge might find that the employee in this example has suffered wage-loss disability of 50%, since he or she is only able to make half of the pre-injury wage. This can add up to some big bucks, really fast.
If you’ve had a work injury and think you’re going to have to take a pay cut, give us a call. We’d be happy to visit with you and give you honest, real, straightforward advice on how you may be able to make a wage-loss disability claim.
Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law