Michigan Workers’ Compensation law is a compromise between employers and employees. Under the law, workers are entitled to receive prompt benefits when they are injured at work. However, in return for these benefits the employee cannot sue his or her employer for pain and suffering.
What are the Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ Compensation benefits include lost wages, payment of your medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, medical mileage reimbursement and death benefits. Another benefit includes payment for more personal attendant care from home health aides, family members or even friends due to your work place injury.
Most workers’ compensation benefits are limited in scope. This means you are not entitled to receive all of your lost wages from your employer’s workers compensation insurance company. In addition, you are only entitled to reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your work injury. The system does not pay for non-worked related injuries and is not a family health insurance plan.
The Michigan Workers’ Compensation system is a no-fault system. This means an injured worker is entitled to benefits even if he caused his own injury.
How Much Wage Loss Can I Receive?
Workers Compensation wage loss is limited. You can only receive lost wages up to 80% of your after-tax average weekly wage. This usually works out to 60% of your gross pay. You are entitled to lost wages as long as you are disabled from work due to your work-related injury.
Wage loss benefits are limited to a maximum of 90% of the state average weekly wage. If you are a high wage earner, this wage loss maximum will severely limit your usual take home pay.
To determine your workers comp rate you must first compute your “average weekly rate.” To do this, take the highest 39 paid weeks in the 52 paid weeks prior to your injury and add them together. Then take that amount and divide by 39 to find your average weekly rate. Overtime pay should be included in this calculation.
Recent changes in the Michigan Workers’ Compensation law have allowed insurance companies to reduce wage loss benefits by a hypothetical “wage earning capacity”. Basically, if your employer or the workers comp insurance company believes you can perform another job, they can credit those “wages” even if they are not actually earned.
Your wage loss benefit should be paid on a weekly basis for as long as you are disabled due to your work-related injuries. However, a wage lost benefit is not considered “late” until 30 days after its due date.
What about Medical Treatment?
Under the Michigan workers’ compensation system, you are entitled to all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for as long as you are injured due to a work-related injury. This means your employer’s workers compensation insurance company must pay all hospital, doctor and rehabilitation charges. It also includes things like crutches, wheelchairs and prescriptions. There is no dollar limit to the medical care and in theory it is a lifetime benefit.
A recent change in Michigan Workers’ Compensation law has drastically altered the way medical treatment is administered for injured workers. For the first 28 days of medical treatment, the injured worker must treat at a facility of the employer’s choosing. This usually means treatment at a Concentra location where doctors are encouraged to send their patients back to work as soon as possible.
After the 28-day period, you are allowed to choose your own doctor provided you first notify your employer or the insurance company in writing. You are entitled to receive full reimbursement of your medical expenses, however the reality is once your employer begins to dispute the claim, you can expect the payment process to slow down or even stop.
Another important workers’ compensation benefit is vocational rehabilitation. This benefit includes training to prepare you for another job, assistance in getting back to your old job or helping you find a job with another employer. This service must be offered by your employer and the services are paid directly to the rehabilitation agency.
You are entitled to a maximum of 104 weeks of vocational rehabilitation in returning to work.
Another important benefit for severely injured workers under Michigan workers’ compensation is attendant care. Most insurance companies won’t tell you about this benefit because it can add thousands of dollars to a workers’ compensation claim.
Attendant care is personal care an injured person requires due to their work related injuries. This care includes, but is not limited to, wound care, bathroom assistance, hygiene assistance, general supervision, and help with walking and medication assistance. Attendant care can be provided by professional nurses or even by family members or friends for up to 56 hours per week. They are paid at an hourly rate.
Many people who have surgery require attendant care upon getting discharged from the hospital. It is important you discuss the need for attendant care with your doctor and obtain an attendant care script to present to the insurance company. In addition, it is important your attendant care provider – whether a family member or friend – maintain a record of the work they are completing on your behalf to present to the insurance company for payment.
What To Do Next
Obtaining Michigan workers’ compensation benefits is not easy. The law is stacked against injured workers like never before. It is important to get the most benefits you can.
Please call Lee Free and Michigan Workers’ Compensation lawyers at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form so we can answer any questions you may have about your Michigan Workers’ Compensation benefits.
We are the Michigan Workers’ Compensation experts. You pay nothing until we win your Michigan workers’ compensation case. Let us help you today.
Ask Lee Free
Q: Can my employer choose the doctor I see?
A: During the first 28 days of treatment, your employer has the right to choose your doctor.