Workers’ Compensation in Louisiana
If you are hurt on the job in Louisiana, unable to work due to the injury, and if your injury is covered by Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer are obligated to pay indemnity benefits, necessary and reasonable related medical bills, travel expenses and vocational rehabilitation benefits.
Workers’ compensation payments are made regardless of fault on the part of the employer or employee. In exchange for the benefits, the employee generally waives the right to sue his or her employer in tort for pain and suffering damages.
If you are injured at work, you must report your injuries to your employer within 30 days or be barred from receiving benefits. It’s usually best to report your injuries immediately because insurance companies are less skeptical of claims that are reported sooner, rather than later. Once you give notice of the injury, your employer should complete a form called a “First Report of Injury” and provide it to its insurer. The insurer will then submit the form to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
An injured worker is not entitled to his or her old job after a workplace injury. Your employer is not required to hold your job for you. However, your employer cannot fire you simply because you filed a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim.
How Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Calculated
In Louisiana, indemnity benefits are typically two-thirds (66%) of your average weekly wage, subject to a maximum of $657 per week. Indemnity benefits include temporary total disability, supplemental earnings benefits (SEB), permanent partial disability, and permanent total disability. If an injury leaves you unable to earn wages equal to 90 percent of your wages at the time of injury, you are entitled to supplemental earning benefits. These benefits are limited to 520 weeks. If you die, your surviving beneficiaries may recover a maximum of $8,500 in burial expenses in addition to other compensation.
An employee may be entitled to a one-time payment of $50,000 if his or her injury is deemed catastrophic in nature. The Louisiana Workforce Commission defines the following injuries as catastrophic: paraplegia, quadriplegia, or the total anatomical loss of hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or one hand and one foot, or any two thereof. Your employer and its insurer may also off you a lump sum settlement of your claim in exchange for a release of further obligations. Before accepting a settlement, you should consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Both mental and physical injuries from either accidents or occupational diseases are covered. However, mental injuries must be the result of a physical injury or of a sudden, unexpected and extraordinary stress related to the employment.
Accident related medical bills should be paid by the employer and its workers’ compensation insurer. The insurer’s approval is required for treatment beyond $750 unless the care is provided under emergency conditions.
The injured person has the right to choose their treating physician. However, if you want to switch from one doctor to another in the same specialty, you will likely need to get your employer’s approval first.
All related expenses reasonably and necessary for obtaining services, medicines, and prosthetic devices should be paid by your employer and its workers’ compensation insurer.