MICHIGAN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW
The law offices of Charters, Tyler & Zack, P.C. have been fighting for and winning cases on behalf of injured workers throughout the State of Michigan for over forty years. The Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act was a compromise made between workers and employers whereby the workers gave up their rights to sue their employers for anything short of intentional harm and, in return, were guaranteed to receive medical care and lost wages should they sustain work related injuries/disabilities.
Unfortunately, due to the changing political environment in the State of Michigan, these benefits once so strongly bargained for have now been eroded, reduced, offset and made nearly impossible to obtain without legal assistance. In the State of Michigan the injured worker has become a second class citizen so it is imperative that you contact our offices immediately following a work related injury.
An attorney that does not specialize in workers’ compensation might tell you that you do not need an attorney unless your benefits are denied or terminated. This is far from the truth. You need a workers’ compensation attorney from the onset to advise you and guide you through what has become a very complicated process. Most attorneys do not want to take the time to advise you because they do not get paid for those services. At Charters, Tyler & Zack, P.C. we will take the time because we want to ensure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled by law. We also want to keep you from falling into a potential insurance company trap, which could result in the loss of your benefits.
We will advise you without contacting your employer, insurance company or adjuster. The adjuster handling your case has most likely processed hundreds if not thousands of workers’ compensation cases. You need an experienced attorney on your side advising you how to protect your rights and benefits.
Our experienced attorneys will help you with the following:
- Determine your average weekly wage which establishes your weekly benefit rate
- Ensure you are being paid the correct workers’ compensation rate
- Review how and when discontinued fringe benefits are used to increase your workers’ compensation rate
- Discuss settlement possibilities
- Obtain reimbursement for mileage to and from medical appointments
- Obtain paid attendant care services
- Obtain transportation services
- Obtain a nurse case manager
- Obtain a doctor to appear at the employer’s medical evaluation
- Make a determination as to specific loss/industrial loss benefits
- Assist with death benefits
- Obtain vocational retraining
We cannot cover in a website all the information that you will need to protect your benefits. We have seen far too many cases of financial disaster resulting in losses of homes, vehicles, jobs and families due to work related injuries. Avoid those types of disasters and contact our office today at 800.274.6636.
There is never a fee unless we recover benefits on your behalf.
What is workers’ compensation?
The Workers’ Disability Compensation Act is a Michigan law that requires employers to pay wage replacement benefits, to pay for medical care, and to pay for rehabilitation of employees who sustain work-related injuries while working for employers covered by this law.
What employers are covered by this law?
Michigan employers are covered if they
- Have three or more employees at any given time, or
- Employ one or more employees for 35 hours or more hours per week for 13 weeks or longer.
However, the law does not cover
- Federal government employees,
- Employees of interstate railroads,
- Seamen working on navigable waters, and
- Workers who load or unload vessels.
All of these workers are covered by various federal laws.
Are self-employed workers covered?
No. While the employees of a sole proprietor may be covered, the person who owns the business is self-employed. Because this person is not an “employee,” the business owner is not covered.
To receive weekly benefits, your injury must be caused and/or aggravated by your work and your disability must cause wage loss.
If an injury is work-related and your disability results in wage loss, you may receive weekly benefits for the duration of your disability and possibly for the rest of your life.
The law entitles an employee disabled by a work-related injury to receive 80% of the after-tax value of the worker’s average weekly wage. Generally, this amount is about 60% of the gross weekly wage, but cannot exceed 90% of the State’s average weekly wage for the year in which the injury occurs. However, additional factors are involved in the calculation, such as the injured employee’s federal income tax filing status and the number of the injured employee’s dependent(s), if any.
In most cases, the average weekly wage is calculated by adding the total wages earned during the highest-paying 39 weeks of the 52 weeks before the occurrence of the work-related injury. This total is then divided by 39 to yield the average weekly wage.
If the fringe benefits continue to be paid by the employer following the injury, their value is not included. But if the fringe benefits are terminated, their value is added to the cash wage to determine the total average weekly wage. There are limits, however, to the extent to which the value of discontinued fringe benefits may increase the average weekly wage.
If these benefits are paid for by your employer, whether entirely or partially, there will be a reduction of your weekly workers’ compensation benefit to the extent of the after-tax value of the employer-financed benefits you receive. If you receive unemployment compensation benefits, these will be subtracted on a dollar-for-dollar basis from your weekly workers’ compensation benefits.
Yes, when you turn 65, or if you are injured when you are 65 or more years of age, the weekly benefit will be reduced 5% for each year that you are 65 or more years of age. The maximum age-based reduction that can be imposed is 50% of the full weekly benefit.
If both employers are covered by the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act, your average weekly wage will be based on the wages earned at both employers. This may increase your weekly workers’ compensation benefit amount.
OTHER WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS
Yes. The employer of an injured employee must pay all of the injured worker’s reasonable and necessary work related medical expenses.
During the 28-day period following a work-related injury, the employer is entitled to choose the health care providers. If the employee rejects the employer-selected health care providers, and receives medical care elsewhere, the employee will be responsible for the charges incurred. After the 28-day period following a work-related injury, the employee may change doctors if (s)he wishes. But (s)he must give the employer the name(s) of the new health care provider(s).
No. The Workers’ Disability Compensation Act does not require employers to pay injured workers for pain and suffering.
If an employee’s death is work-related, the law entitles his or her dependent(s) to 500 weeks of weekly benefits, subject to the various provisions of the law.
DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROCEDURES
In the best case scenario, employers and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers voluntarily pay the weekly and medical benefits that the law requires them to pay. The injured worker thus receives the appropriate weekly wage loss benefits, along with reasonable and necessary medical care, after which (s)he returns to work.
In order to begin a workers’ compensation case, an Application for Mediation or Hearing must be filed so you should immediately contact our office because you will need the assistance of experienced workers’ compensation attorneys.
When our law firm represents injured workers and their dependents in workers’ compensation cases we do not charge a fee “up front,” i.e., in advance of filing the case. Our legal fee is set by law. The fee is based on the amount of benefits recovered and the procedural posture of the case at the time the benefits are recovered, i.e., before trial, during trial, after trial, or settlement without trial. If a case is settled without a trial, the injured worker’s attorney is entitled to a fee of 15% of the first $25,000.00 recovered and 10% of the benefits recovered that exceed $25,000.00. Before calculating the fee, the law also requires the attorney to subtract his or her litigation costs from the total amount recovered.
If a work-related injury prevents you from performing work for which you have prior training or experience, you may receive vocational rehabilitation services, such as retraining and job placement, as may be reasonably needed in order to enable you to return to useful employment. Such rehabilitation is generally limited to a 52-week time period, but can be extended for an additional 52 weeks under certain circumstances.
In most cases, the law does not allow such suits. But there are exceptions to this rule. If you can prove that your employer deliberately did something that was specifically intended to injure you, a damage action can be filed in the civil courts. However, it is exceedingly difficult to make such a showing. If you were injured while working for an employer that was required to have workers’ compensation insurance but lacked it, you may sue the uninsured employer in the civil courts for damages. Depending on the facts involved, you may be able to sue your employer under other Michigan or federal statutes, such as those concerning civil rights and labor law.
If you can show that you were injured because of the negligence of someone other than your employer or a co-worker, you may file a damage action in the civil courts against the allegedly negligent party. If you receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer or its workers’ compensation carrier and later recover damages from a third party, your employer or its carrier may be entitled to a portion of your damage recovery.
While there is generally no time limit within which a workers’ compensation case must be started, the law limits the length of time preceding the filing date for which benefits may be awarded. If the case is filed and you have not received benefits, the law limits benefit payments to the two-year time period preceding the case’s filing date. But if you received benefits before filing the case, the law limits benefits to the one-year time period preceding the case’s filing date.