Q.--What is Worker’s Compensation in Michigan?
A.—Worker’s Compensation in Michigan is a system that has been around for over 100 years that helps injured workers. It is intended to provide medical care, lost wages, and rehabilitation services for injured workers regardless as to who may be at fault. It covers almost all workers in Michigan. Michigan law makes it mandatory for almost all employers to have insurance that covers worker’s compensation benefits.
Q.—I was injured at home and cannot work. Can I collect worker’s compensation?
A.—No. Michigan law clearly states that an employee is injured must have suffered the injury “arising out of and in the course of employment .” You may be entitled to short term or long term disability benfits, if they are offered by the employer. Note, though, that short term and long term disability benefits are totally optional. They do not have to be offered by an employer.
Q.—I have a pre-existing condition that was made worse by my job. Can I collect worker’s compensation?
A.—Possibly. The law states the following: “A personal injury under this act [worker’s compensation law] is compensable if work causes, contributes to, or aggravates pathology in a manner so as to create a pathology that is medically distinguishable from any pathology that existed prior to the injury.” In other words, it depends on the medical findings of your doctor. Your doctor needs to compare your pre-existing condition and your condition after you stop work and be able to medically show a change in your condition.
Q.—I was injured on the job and my employer’s insurance company says I have to see their doctor. I want to go to my doctor. Which doctor can I see?
A.—The law provides that an employer or their insurance carrier can chose your physician by refusing to pay your doctor for the first 28 days. After 28 days you can chose your doctor, but you must tell your employer or insurance company about the new doctor in order to get them to pay for it. Of course, you can go to any doctor of your choice, if you are willing to pay the physician.
Q.—I have been seeing my doctor for my job injury and the insurance company has been paying me worker’s compensation benefits. They now want me to see their doctor. Do I have to go?
A.—Yes. The law allows for reasonable, periodic examinations by a doctor of the insurance company’s choice to determine if you can return to work and your need for ongoing medical care.
Q.—I have been receiving worker’s compensation benefits, but they stopped paying me after I saw the insurance company’s doctor. My doctor says I still cannot work. Is this legal?
A.—The insurance company has the legal right to believe the opinion of any doctor. If there is a dispute between the doctors and your benefits are terminationed, then you need to call an attorney at 1-800-541-3000 immediately and file a claim against them.
Q.—I was injured on the job and was off work for 6 days. The insurance company refuses to pay any lost wages. Is this correct?
A.—Yes. Worker’s compensation law says you have to be off of work for more than 7 days to quailify for wage loss benefits. If you are off of work between 8 and 14 days, worker’s compensation has to pay you for the time you are off of work that is more than 7 days. If you are off of work for more than 14 days, they have to pay you from the first day you missed work due to the job injury.
Q.—How much does worker’s compensation pay in lost wages?
A.—Worker’s compensation is paid based upon a complex formula of your average weekly wage (not your last pay check). Basically, worker’s compensation looks at your last 52 weeks of employment. It takes the best 39 weeks and computes your average weekly wage. A different formula is used if you worked less than 52 weeks. Based upon your average weekly wage, your after-tax wage is calculated. Worker’s compensation pays 80% of the after-tax wage. The amount is subject to a maximum allowable amount in the year that you were injured. A lawyer can assist you on the complete and proper calculation.
Q.—I was receiving worker’s compensation, but they reduced the amount I was receiving. Is this proper?
A.—It depends on the reason they reduced your benefits. The law does allow your employer or insurance company to reduce your worker’s compensation benefits if you are receiving other benefits, such as social security retirement, retirement benefits, disability policy provided by your employer, etc. They can also reduce your benefits if you are not totally disabled and “are capable of earning at a job reasonable available to that employee, whether or not wages are actually earned.” A lawyer should be consulted for a full analysis.
Q.—How long does worker’s compensation benefits last?
A.—Worker’s Compensation in Michigan is a life time benefit. Medical benefits are paid so long as they are reasonable, necessary and related to the job injury. Wage loss benefits are paid so long as the injured worker is disabled. At age 66, though, worker’s compensation benefits are reduced based upon the eligible amount of social security retirement benefits.
Q.—What is a redemption?
A.—A redemption is a settlement of a person’s worker’s compensation rights. It is a settlement of all past, present and future benefits. The settlement amount (also called the redemption amount) must be approved by a Magistrate.
Q.—What are the attorney fees in a Worker’s Compensation Case?
A.—Attorney fees are as low as 10% for a redemption of a claim that is being voluntarily paid and as high as 30% if benefits are awarded in cases tried to completion. The entire fee schedule is explained at an initial consultation and is provided in a written contract. In Worker’s Compensation, there is no fee, unless your recover.