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indiana work comp claim

Can my workers’ compensation pay be garnished by a collector?

Your workers’ compensation pay cannot be garnished by a collector or an attorney representing the interests of another party. However, once you return to work, even if you are still receiving medical treatment from the workers’ compensation doctor, your wages can be garnished.

Also, deductions cannot be taken out of your paycheck for workers’ compensation insurance. If this happens, the employee should contact the Employment Standards Division at (317) 232-2655.

Types of Settlement Agreements in a Workers’ Compensation Claim

 

Section 15 settlements are full and final, which means you waive your rights to reopen your claim in the future. It is important to note that settling a work-related claim on a Section 15 basis only bars you from reopening that particular claim within the 2-year statute of limitations. New claims for either an aggravation of a prior injury or a completely new injury are still allowed. This would be true even if you were re-injured  at the same place of employment.  This type of settlement will be presented to the injured worker through a Stipulation for Full and Final Settlement usually prepared by the employer’s insurance carrier or attorney.

The other type of settlement that does not waive future rights to the claim, given that the time constraints are met, is usually issued through an Agreement to Compensation of Employee and Employer (Form 1043). Be aware that a Stipulation for Settlement, which is different than a Stipulation for Full and Final Settlement, may also be used to settle claims and does not waive your rights to reopen a claim.

Therefore, an injured worker should review his or her settlement papers very closely before signing them. Sometimes, a Section 15 settlement agreement is offered to an injured worker by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier or the employers’ attorney when it is inappropriate to do so. In these cases, the other party may be acting in bad faith.

If you have any questions about your settlement agreement, you should consult with an attorney.

Filing Bankruptcy After a Work Accident

 

When an injured worker files bankruptcy, it is important to note than any medical bills related to treatment for the work injury which are included in the bankruptcy cannot be included thereafter in a workers’ compensation lawsuit. In other words, you will not be paid for bills you incurred while treating on your own, if indeed you no longer owe on these bills because of filing bankruptcy.

Additionally, if the injured worker wins a settlement from the workers’ compensation claim, the settlement award may be paid to the bankruptcy court instead of to the injured worker.

Therefore, it would be worthwhile for an injured worker who is involved in a workers’ compensation matter and is also contemplating a bankruptcy suit, to seek advice from an attorney.

What happens if the workers’ compensation insurance carrier goes bankrupt?

 

Although workers’ compensation insurance carriers do go bankrupt on occasion, it is not the norm.

In the event your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier does go bankrupt or becomes financially unable to pay the benefits you are entitled to by the Workers’ Compensation Act, then you should contact the Workers’ Compensation Board or the Indiana Insurance Guaranty Association at (317) 636-8204 for further guidance.

Note: the Guaranty Association does not guarantee amounts owed by self-insured or uninsured employers.

What to Expect During a Mediation for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

 

The Workers’ Compensation Board requires that attempts be made to settle a workers’ compensation claim before having a formal hearing. Recorded statementsdepositions, and interrogatories, are all conducted so parties have a better understanding of the work accident claim and what might realistically be a fair settlement to offer to avoid having to go to court.

Mediations are a last ditch effort to settle a case before it would go to court. In a mediation, the parties hire an outside, neutral person known as a mediator, to sit in on a discussion about the case with the parties. Mediators will offer advice to both sides on how they could resolve the disputed issues. Although mediations have a high success rate, it is a completely voluntary effort, so you cannot be required to accept a settlement offered during this process.

If I received unemployment after my work injury, does that affect my claim for lost wages?

 

Possibly.

If you claim your period of unemployment as time off for the work injury, then it is possible that you may not receive temporary total disability benefits for this same period of time. In other words, worker’s compensation will not pay you more than the difference, if any, between what you were paid through unemployment and what you should have been paid through worker’s compensation.

Worker’s Compensation & Child Support

 

According to the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act (Ind. Code §31-2-10), a settlement award is subject to any orders pertaining to child support. Up to one-half of the award can be withheld in order to comply with the child support order (Ind. Code §22-3-2-7).

A child support order may also be issued to require the injured worker to pay a portion of any settlement to the court involved in the child support matter.

When an Employer or Insurance Carrier Acts in Bad Faith or Lacks Due Diligence

 

The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act gives the Worker’s Compensation Board the authority to determine if an employer or the employer’s worker’s compensation carrier acted in bad faith or lacked due diligence in handling an injured worker’s claim. These terms simply refer to the responsibility of employers and worker’s compensation insurance carriers to handle claims with persistence, attentiveness, and in good trust.

If an employer or their insurance carrier is found to have acted in bad faith or lacked due diligence, the Board can impose fines which are to be paid to the injured employee between the amount of $500 and $20,000. Additionally, attorney fees may be awarded by the Board in these cases of up to 33 1/3% of the amount awarded to the injured worker.

How do I cover my loss of income if my worker’s compensation claim is denied?

 

If your claim is denied, you will not receive lost wages from worker’s compensation for time off work, even if your personal doctor has ordered you off work, unless you are successful later on in winning your contested claim.

Get an Off Work Slip

In order to prove you are entitled to lost wages, you will need to make sure that you obtain an off work slip for each of the days that your doctor orders you off work as a result of your work injury. This is especially important to do if you treat with different doctors each time you receive treatment particularly at facilities such as a veteran’s hospital or a public hospital.

Use Your Paid Time Off

Further, in order to not jeopardize your job, you should consider using paid vacation time, sick days, or personal days when you need to be off for the work injury, or you can file for short-term/long-term disability benefits if this is offered by your employer. You can also request up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off through The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if both you and your employer qualify for FMLA. Please note that if you use FMLA and do not return to your job at the end of 12 weeks, you may be fired.