Frequently Asked Questions About Workers' Compensation

Q: Can I sue my employer for pain and suffering?

A: With rare exceptions, Michigan law prevents you from recovering for pain and suffering. Instead, workers' compensation benefits go into effect and include:

  • Reasonable and necessary medical costs for treatment of the injury
  • Weekly wage loss benefits during your period of disability
  • Vocational rehabilitation in certain cases

Pain and suffering can require medical care and result in disability, thus triggering the payment of workers' compensation benefits.

Q: How much of a settlement am I entitled to in workers' compensation benefits?

A: Weekly tax-free disability benefits are calculated by applying your average weekly wage (average of highest 39 of 52 weeks prior to injury) to the rate formula of 80 percent of your after-tax weekly wage. A computerized program provides these calculations. In general terms, the rate often is close to two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage. Recent decisions by the Michigan Supreme Court and appellate court panels threaten to reduce the weekly disability rate by the worker's residual (remaining) earning capacity.

Q: What kind of injuries are compensable?

A: Specific event injuries such as slip and falls, vehicular accidents on the job, and injuries caused by lifting heavy objects are covered by the workers' compensation laws.

Other types of injuries, such as repetitive use syndromes, including arthritis, carpal tunnel and degenerative disks, are covered if the work significantly contributed to the ailment. Coverage is even available for pre-existing injuries and diseases if the work injury resulted in a worsened condition distinguishable from the prior condition.

Q: When I am off work and treated for a work injury, do I have to look for other jobs?

A: Under current law interpreted by the Michigan Supreme Court, an injured worker must demonstrate "a loss of wage-earning capacity" in order to collect weekly disability benefits. Thus, in most situations, he or she should look for work within the physical restrictions.

Thus, the worker either earns wages or demonstrates there are no jobs available that pay the amount at or near the worker's previous level.

Q: If I take another job while still disabled from my original job and earn less money, am I entitled to my partial wage loss?

A: Yes, if you work on a "light job" because of your injury restrictions, you are entitled to partial benefits if you earn less than the average that you earned at the original job.

Q: Am I entitled to a "lump sum" of money when I have been injured on the job?

A: The law provides for weekly payments and medical costs, but case settlements often occur in a "redemption" of all benefits if and when the injured worker and the employer's insurance company agree to do so.

Q: Should I settle my case for a lump-sum "redemption"?

A: Important factors to consider when deciding whether to settle the case and at what level or amount include the severity of injury, job prospects, age, other benefits paid, Medicare/Medicaid liens, disputed issues and employer's defenses. Not all settlements are wise decisions. Experienced attorneys should provide advice as to whether a settlement can benefit you.

For A Free Consultation

Q: How can I get in touch with a lawyer about my workers' compensation claim or denial?

A: Contact Ryan & Ryan Attorneys at Law by calling 888-SEE-RYAN (888-733-7926) or by email. Initial consultations are at no charge and you will owe us no fees unless we help you recover compensation.