September 8, 2017

FAQ About Workers' Comp Benefits

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Oregon Workers' Compensation Claim Benefits

One of the most common questions I get about workers' compensation benefits is whether there is a right to pain and suffering for a workers' compensation claim.  Here is an explanation of all the benefits available and not available when you have an accepted claim.  Unfortunately, pain and suffering is not one of them...

What Benefits Will I Receive For My Workers' Comp Claim?

Time loss:

If you miss work for your workers' compensation claim, you will be entitled to time loss.  This is basically missed wages.  However, it is not your full, normal wage amount.  Time loss is two thirds of your average weekly wage, tax-free.

Permanent Impairment (PPD):

If you have permanent physical limitations due to the accepted work injury, you will be entitled to some financial compensation.  It is based on limitations such as range of motion loss, sensation loss, and surgery.  It is calculated based on the amount of the limitation using a statutory calculation sheet.  Your attending physician decides what your permanent impairment is.

Work Disability:

If you cannot return to regular work due to your injury, you will be entitled to a one-time financial payment for this "work disability."  It is based on how disabled you are physically, how much you made at the job at injury, your age, and education level.  Your attending physician decides if you can return to regular work or not when your treatment is finished.

Vocational Retraining:

If you cannot return to regular work due to your injury, your company can offer you a permanent modified position.  But, if they are unable to do so, you will be evaluated to determine if you are entitled to vocational retraining.  The idea is that you should be able to go back to work in a job that pays at least 80 percent of the wage of the job at injury.  If you have a significant handicap in returning to work that pays at that level, you will be eligible for vocational retraining paid for by the insurer.

Medical Treatment:

Your medical treatment will all be paid for as long as it is related to an accepted claim.  The treatment must be for the actual accepted condition (i.e., lumbar strain), not other conditions even if they affect the same body part.

Return to Work:

You are entitled to return to your job at injury within 3 years of the work injury as long as you are released to regular work by your attending physician.  After three years your company can fill the position with someone else.

What Benefits Are Not Available in a Workers' Comp Claim?

Pain and Suffering:

There is no pain and suffering available in workers' compensation claims in Oregon.  The closest to this is the permanent impairment award addressed above.  Workers' comp covers the very basics for your claim, with nothing extra.  This can be frustrating because injured workers often experience a lot of problems other than missing work (being unable to do hobbies they enjoy, help with their children, etc).

Full Pay:

A company could pay your full wages while you miss work for an injury, but in practice, no employers do this.  You will just receive your time loss wage which is a little less than your normal pay.

Lifetime Benefits:

There are no lifetime benefits for injured workers.  (There is one exception for permanent and total disability but this is for very serious injurious such as full paralysis, loss of legs, etc.) So, at some point you will be declared medically stationary by your attending physician and the claim will be closed.  You will get the above-mentioned benefits, but there will be no ongoing payments, even if you cannot return to the job at injury.

Right to Sue:

There is no right to sue your employer for negligence for the causation of your injury.  Workers' compensation is what lawyers call an "exclusive remedy."  This means if you are hurt at work your only option is to file a workers' compensation claim, not a personal injury lawsuit, even if your employer is at fault.

If you have more questions or you think you are not being paid the benefits you are owed under a claim, feel free to call for more questions.  We always do free consultations!  (503) 975-5535

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