If you have a condition that significantly reduces or limits your ability to work, you may be considered disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore protected by this federal law.
The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. The Act says that an employer cannot discriminate against workers with disabilities. This includes those who may be a candidate for a position as well as those who already hold a position, such as an injured worker who is left with a disability due to a work accident, but who wants to return to his or her place of employment.
An injured worker whose work abilities have been limited by a work accident will probably be evaluated by a doctor to find out how well he or she can perform the necessary duties of the job. If the worker’s condition limits him or her from performing job tasks that are not critical to the job, then the ADA would require these tasks be reassigned. In a similar manner, if the task that the worker is unable to do are critical to the job, then the ADA requires the employer to consider a reasonable accommodation that would help the worker to still complete this task. This might include special equipment or a device that relieves some of the physical nature of the worker’s job; however, the law does not clearly define this term.
Sometimes a work injury claim is denied by the worker’s compensation insurance carrier. The Indiana law indicates that no compensation is allowed for an injury or death due to an employee:
However, it is the employer’s responsibility to prove that such behavior on the part of the employee resulted in his or her work injury. If the employer is able to prove such, then the injured worker is barred from any compensation for his or her work injury.
In other cases, an injured worker’s claim may be denied for reasons that are not so clear. Regardless of the circumstances, all injured workers should receive written notification from the employer if their claim is being denied approximately 30 days after the employer is first made aware of the work accident and injury.
You will receive medical treatment until you are released from the doctor at maximum medical improvement, which basically means your injury is as good as it will get and will not significantly improve with more treatment.
From this point forward, you are free to treat with a doctor on your own, but you will have to pay for this treatment. Exceptions apply to those workers who qualify for permanent total disability, or who are eligible for future medical benefits.
During the course of your medical treatment with the worker’s compensation doctor(s), if you want a second opinion, it is YOUR RIGHT to seek one on your own, but it will be at your own expense. And again, you may run the risk of having the worker’s compensation benefits you are entitled to suspended if the treatment with this personal doctor interferes with the worker’s compensation doctor’s treatment.
If you feel strongly that you need a second opinion, you may consider requesting an independent medical examination (IME) through the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana. This option would be available to you once you are released from the worker’s compensation doctor to return to work. You can read more about independent medical examinations, or IME’s, here.
In general, two years is the timeline for filing a claim in an Indiana worker’s compensation matter. It is extremely important to note when this period of time begins running, as it differs depending on the type of accident and injury.
Date of Accident
The law states that an injured worker has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana.
On the other hand, if the accident is the unexpected consequence of performing one’s job duties, such as a repetitive trauma injury, the Court has held that the two year time constraint begins “when the injury is discernible by the employee,” which is usually the date that the injured worker first seeks treatment for the work injury.
In the case of a worker who has died as a result of the work accident, the dependents have two years from the date of death to file a claim.
If the worker receives disability benefits as a result of the accident for time missed from work, he or she has “two (2) years from the last date for which compensation [includes temporary total disability income, a permanent partial impairment award, and permanent total disability pay] was paid” to do something legally about this worker’s compensation matter. Please note that the last date for which compensation was paid refers to the ending date of your pay period, not the last day that you received a check in your mail.
Time limitations for Indiana worker’s compensation claims can be very tricky, but they are VERY important to understand for your particular claim. You should consult an attorney to further explain these limitations.
Yes, if the work accident caused aggravation of the prior condition, then what has been aggravated should be covered.
Aggravating a prior injury or condition
Aggravation of a prior injury or condition is covered if the aggravation occurs by accident, arising out of and in the course of employment. However, the employer is only responsible for the part that was aggravated and the increase in impairment that may result. The extent of aggravation is typically left up to a doctor to clarify.
Cheryl has had problems with her right elbow since childhood. However, her condition was not serious enough to require surgery.
Recently, Cheryl slipped on some ice in the employee parking lot on her way into work which caused further injury to her right elbow. As a result, she underwent several surgeries and was assigned a permanent partial impairment rating to her right elbow by the orthopedic surgeon.
There are a couple of points to note from this example.
Employers are required by law to post the name, address, and telephone number of their worker’s compensation insurance carrier in an obvious area within the workplace (for example, in the breakroom). You may also ask your employer for this information.
If your employer says they do not carry worker’s compensation insurance and you have been injured on the job, you can contact the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana to verify whether your employer has worker’s compensation insurance. If your employer does not carry insurance, the Board will take action against your employer. The law allows penalties to be assessed against any employer who fails to carry worker’s compensation insurance in the state of Indiana.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals maintained that the National Labor Relations Board has the authority to hear a complaint from employees who bring a hybrid lawsuit against an employer and labor union.
In Beverly K. Copeland, et al. v. Penske Logistics LLC; Penske Logistics, Inc.; and Chauffeurs, Teamsters, Warehousemen and Helpers Local Union Number 135, No. 11-1955, former Penske Logistics employees filed suit when they grew dissatisfied with the compensation package offered by Penske when the company lost its contract with The Indianapolis Star—its only client. Penske provided transportation services for The Star. The lawsuit claimed that the company did not provide its employees all the appropriate benefits available to them under its contract with The Star. The suit also claimed that the union should be found liable for failing to bargain with Penske in good faith to ensure all benefits would be secured for the employees.
Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the 7th Circuit opinion: “As a hybrid action, it is doomed by the fact that the plaintiffs do not even contend that Penske Logistics failed to implement the collective bargaining agreement.”
The appellate panel held that the good faith claim is a matter under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. This affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment favor of the defendants in the matter of fair representation. The appellate panel remanded for dismissal of the good faith claim, citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction.