Louisiana Workers' Compensation Lawyer
You need an experienced personal injury lawyer protecting your interests when you have been injured in an on the job injury. These are frequently referred to as workers' compensation cases. Workers' compensation is a legal remedy whereby an employee who is injured on the job may be entitled to certain benefits. The benefits can include medical care for the injury, indemnity wage benefits, vocational rehabilitation services, and/or death benefits. These benefits are the obligation of the employer and are paid directly to the employee by the employer or its workers' compensation insurer. Every employer, unless statutorily exempted, is responsible for the medical care and the payment of indemnity wage benefits to any employee who is injured while in the course and scope of his or her employment.
Our Louisiana workers' compensation attorneys are available for immediate in-home, video conference, or telephone consults if you are unable to travel. The O'Pry Law Firm has successfully handled hundreds of workers' compensation cases. In every accident situation, it is important to move quickly in order to protect your rights and preserve evidence that may be lost with the passage of time. If you have suffered an on the job injury, call the O'Pry Law Firm or click here to complete our simple questionnaire.
Who Is Covered By the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Law?
Most employees in Louisiana are covered from the day they start employment. Employees may be full-time, part-time, seasonal, or minors. Subcontractors and certain independent contractors may be considered employees if they are involved in the pursuit of the employer's trade, business, or occupation or if they are performing substantial manual labor. The law does contain some limited exemptions. Domestic employees, most real estate salespersons, uncompensated officers and directors of certain non-profit organizations, and public officials are specifically exempted. Most volunteer workers would not be entitled to benefits.
What Injuries Are Covered By The Workers' Compensation Law?
The law covers both mental and physical injuries from either accidents or occupational diseases. However, a mental injury must be the result of a physical injury or of a sudden, unexpected, and extraordinary stress related to the employment and in either case must be proved by clear and convincing evidence. An accident is defined by the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act as an unexpected or unforeseen actual, identifiable, precipitous event happening suddenly or violently, with or without human fault, and directly producing at the time objective findings of an injury which is more than simply a gradual deterioration or progressive degeneration. An occupational disease is defined by the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act as only that disease or illness which is due to causes and conditions characteristic of and peculiar to the particular trade, occupation, process, or employment in which the employee is exposed to such disease.
The event causing the injury must arise out of and be within the course and scope of the employee's employment. Generally, the fault of the employer or employees does not affect the compensability of an injury. However, no compensation may be allowed if the injury was caused by the employee's willful intention to injure himself/herself or others; or by the injured employee's intoxication at the time of the injury, unless resulting from activities in pursuit of the employer's interests or from activities in which the employer procured and encouraged the use of the beverage or substance. An employee may not be entitled to benefits if he is the aggressor in an unprovoked physical altercation. The employee may not be entitled to benefits if it is determined that he/she was a participant in “horseplay” at the time that the injury occurred.
Louisiana Workers' Compensation Lawyer Near Me (337) 415-0007
What to Do After an On the Job Injury
The actions you take after a work accident can have a big impact on your ability to recover physically and financially. It is extremely important to report your accident to your employer. You should also seek medical treatment immediately after a work accident. Often, a supervisor will coax the employee to return to work after the accident without seeking medical treatment so the injury does not have to be reported. An employee should never agree to do this and should always seek medical treatment immediately for injuries. Not only does this help an employee to get better quickly, it also serves an important function of documenting the employee's injuries should the employer deny that an accident occurred.
Getting Medical Care
Under Louisiana law, the employer must provide the employee with reasonable and necessary medical treatment. An injured worker has the freedom to choose his or her treating physician and may switch from one specialty of care to another without having to seek approval of the employer/insurer. The worker must, however, have permission to switch from one provider to another within the same field of specialty.
While the injured worker has the freedom to select the treating physician, the physician must have approval from the employer/ insurance carrier to continue treatment beyond $750 worth of care unless the care is provided under emergency conditions.
Often an employer will assign a Nurse Case Manager to assist with the medical treatment of the injured worker. While a Nurse Case Manager can assist the employee with scheduling doctor visits, the employee should always remember that the Nurse Case Manager works for the insurance company. The Nurse Case Manager's job is try to get the employee to return to work as quickly as possible and will often push the employee's doctor to release them at the earliest date possible. Often a Nurse Case Manager will try to get the injured worker to allow them to attend the worker's doctor visits. However, a Nurse Case Manager has no right to attend these visits and the worker should NEVER allow this. If a Nurse Case Manager has been attending your doctor visits with you or pressuring you to allow them to attend, you should call the O'Pry Law Firm immediately at (337) 415-0007.
How Are Medical Benefits Paid?
An employee has the right to select one doctor of his or her choice in each specialty field for treatment of the job-related injury. The employer or its workers' compensation insurer is required to pay all approved necessary expenses for medical treatment and all reasonably and necessarily incurred travel to obtain treatment. Medical benefits payable under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act shall be paid within 30 days after the employer or its workers' compensation insurer receives written notice thereof, or within 60 days if the provider of medical services is not utilizing the electronic billing rules and regulations provided for in R.S. 23:1203.2. An itemized list of out of pocket medical expenses and receipts paid by the employee should be sent to the employer or its workers' compensation insurer for reimbursement.
For a free legal consultation with a work accident lawyer serving Louisiana, call (337) 415-0007
How Are Indemnity Benefits Paid?
An employee who suffers an injury may be entitled to weekly/monthly indemnity benefits if the injury prevents the employee from returning to work for more than seven calendar days. The first installment of benefits payable shall become due on the fourteenth day after the employer or insurer has knowledge of the injury or death. No compensation shall be paid for the first week after the injury occurs unless the disability from the injury continues for two weeks or longer after the date of the accident. This “waiting period” indemnity payment shall be paid after the first two weeks have elapsed. Thus, in a nutshell, if you miss less than a week of work, your employer does not have to pay you indemnity benefits. However, once you miss two weeks, the employer must go back and pay you for both weeks that you were out of work.
The employer or its workers' compensation insurer is responsible for the payment of indemnity benefits to the employee in an amount equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66.67%) of the employee's average weekly wage, subject to a maximum/minimum benefit amount set by the Office of Workers Compensation Administration (referred to as “OWCA” for short). Maximum/minimum indemnity benefits are determined according to the date of the accident causing the injury.
An employee who suffers an injury may be entitled to Supplemental Earnings Benefits (SEB) if that employee is able to return to work, but is unable to earn at least ninety percent of the pre-injury wage. Supplemental Earnings Benefits are calculated as sixty-six and two-thirds percent of the difference between the pre-injury average monthly wages and the average monthly wage the employee is capable of earning, subject to the maximum/minimum benefit amount set by the OWCA. Supplemental Earnings Benefits are payable on a monthly basis unless the employee is not receiving any income from employment or self-employment and the employer has not established earning capacity. In that case, the employee may be paid weekly SEB. In either case, SEB is payable for a maximum of 520 weeks including the time for which other indemnity benefits were paid.
Work Accident Attorneys Ready to Help in Your Time of Need
If the employee dies within two years of the last treatment as the result of any job-related accident, his or her surviving spouse and/or dependent child(ren) (or other dependents) may be entitled to weekly indemnity benefits pursuant to the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act. If there are no surviving dependents, the employee's surviving parents are entitled to a one-time benefit of $75,000 each. The employer or its workers' compensation insurer shall also pay, in addition to any other benefits, reasonable expenses of the burial of the employee, not to exceed $8,500.
An employee is entitled to a one-time payment of $50,000 if the injury is determined to be catastrophic. Only the following injuries shall be considered injuries which are catastrophic: Paraplegia or quadriplegia or the total anatomical loss of both hands, both arms, both feet, both legs, both eyes, or one hand and one foot, or any two thereof. Functional loss or loss of use shall not constitute an anatomical loss.
If the employee applies for and subsequently receives Social Security disability benefits, employer-provided disability plan benefits, or Social Security Old Age Retirement benefits, his or her workers' compensation indemnity benefits may be reduced in accordance with the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act. This is not a simple dollar for dollar reduction and must be calculated individually according to the employee's circumstance. In addition, an employee is not entitled to receive workers' compensation indemnity benefits and unemployment insurance benefits at the same time.
Can I Settle My Workers' Compensation Claim?
The short answer is “Yes.” You may enter into a lump sum or compromise settlement upon agreement of all of the parties and with the approval of the Workers' Compensation Judge, provided that, (a) the settlement is clearly in the best interest of all of the parties, and (b) six months have passed since the end of Total Temporary Disability (TTD). However, the six months waiting period may be waived by the consent of the parties.
Often, insurance companies will try to offer a low-ball settlement to the injured worker to get them to close their claim. The injured worker must be extremely careful with this as once the case is settled, the injured worker is completely on their own. They will have to pay any medical expenses out of pocket from that point forward. Also, the employer generally requires the employee to resign as part of the settlement so the injured employee will be left without a job and ineligible for unemployment benefits. Additionally, settlement of a workers' compensation claim can have consequences on any other government assistance that an employee is receiving and can render them ineligible for certain benefits.
Statistics show that injured workers' who have attorneys represent them in negotiating a settlement of their workers' compensation claims end up with five times more money in the settlement. Our skilled workers' compensation attorneys have negotiated hundreds of workers' compensation claims and can get you the maximum amount for settlement. Also, there is no charge for us to evaluate your case and negotiate settlement unless we are able to reach a favorable settlement on your behalf. We guaranty to get you more money in your pocket than what the insurance company is currently offering or we will take no fee on the case. Call our office at (337) 415-0007 for a Free Case Evaluation now!
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now