Workers compensation benefits are supposed to provide medical coverage and lost wages when a worker is injured on the job. Workers’ comp benefits are not all created equal, however. In fact, these programs vary widely from state to state, leaving some workers less protected than others.
Factors in Ranking Workers’ Comp Benefits
Ranking workers’ comp benefits requires considering several contributing factors:
- Waiting periods. After a person has been injured on the job, most states prescribe a mandatory waiting period before the person can file a claim for disability benefits. The waiting period varies from three to seven days depending on the state. For injured workers, a longer waiting period can affect the quality of care received and increase financial and emotional stress.
- Duration of temporary complete disability benefits. For workers who are completely disabled temporarily, each state sets a limit to the amount of time they can receive total disability benefits. The amount of time can range from almost 20 years in Wisconsin to only 2 years in Minnesota and Texas.
- Duration of permanent partial disability assistance. Continuing support of a partial permanent disability is particularly unequal. State maximums range from 156 weeks to 1,000 weeks.
- Amount of wage replacement payment. One of the most important considerations in the quality of workers’ comp benefits is the amount an employer is required to pay to replace a worker’s wages. This amount is typically a percentage of the person’s normal pay and can range from 80% to 66%. Along with the percentage, most states set a limit for weekly payments.
- Iowa. With the shortest waiting period (three days) before a claim can be filed and the highest maximum weekly payment of $1,628, Iowa tops the list of best states for workers’ comp.
- Alaska. With 80% wage replacement, the highest in the United States, and a high weekly maximum payment of more than $1,200 for new claims in 2016, Alaska is a worker-friendly state.
- Wisconsin. Both temporary and permanent disability benefits in Wisconsin are available for 1,000 weeks, which is more than six times the length allowed in Massachusetts.
- Mississippi. With a weekly maximum payment at only $468.63, less than a third of Iowa’s weekly maximum, Mississippi is the worst state to pursue workers’ comp.
- Massachusetts. The shortest amount of permanent partial disability, 156 weeks, earns Massachusetts a place at the bottom of the list.
- Minnesota. Minnesota only allows 104 weeks of temporary complete disability benefits, leaving many workers to cover continuing costs on their own.
How to Proceed if You Are Injured on the Job
No matter what state you are hurt in, it is important to follow certain steps if you are injured on the job to help ensure a successful workers’ comp claim.
- First, see a medical professional immediately after the injury. Along with providing necessary medical treatment, a doctor’s documentation will support your claim.
- Before you can file a claim, the law requires you to inform your employer. Some states provide a 30-day statute of limitations, so do this as soon as possible. It is a good idea to notify your employer in writing so you can prove you completed this step.
- Check your state’s laws, and file a claim within the required amount of time.
If you have questions about workers’ compensation or your claim has been denied, call on a skilled attorney to discuss your benefits. We can explain the legal options at your disposal and ensure you are justly represented. Orange County legal team at DiMarco, Araujo, and Montevideo to request a free consultation, or call us 24/7 at (714) 783-2205.