Workers’ Compensation Frequently Asked Questions
Information about who and what is covered under the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act
Q. How do I know who the workers’ compensation carrier for my employer is?
A. Employers are required to post the name, address, and telephone number of their workers’ compensation insurance carrier in an obvious place in your workplace, like the lounge or break room. If you cannot find this information, call the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board
Q. What if my employer says that he does not have workers’ compensation insurance and I am injured at work?
A. You can contact the Board [(800) 824-COMP] to verify whether or not your employer has workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, the Board will take action against your employer. The law allows penalties to be assessed against any employer in Indiana who fails to purchase workers’ compensation insurance.
Q. I am employed by a staffing agency. Am I covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act?
A. Yes, the Act covers temporary or leased employees. Most likely, the staffing agency would be liable for workers’ compensation benefits, if you are injured at one of your places of employment.
Q. My son is a minor and he was injured on the job. Is he covered?
A. A minor, or someone who is under the age of 17 at the time of the accident, is covered by the Act. If the minor meets this requirement and was also working in violation of Indiana labor laws, he may also be entitled to receive double benefits.
Q. Are psychological injuries covered by the Act?
A. Yes, as long as they arose out of the course of your employment. To prove this, the injured worker will likely have to undergo extensive psychological testing.
Q. I am a postal worker and was recently injured on the job. Am I covered under the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act?
A. No. Federal employees, like postal workers, are covered under the Federal Worker’s Compensation Act. Not all workers’ compensation attorneys are familiar with federal workers’ compensation laws.
Q. I have an old injury that only began bothering me when I injured myself at work. Will this injury be covered, even though it is a pre-existing condition?
A. Yes, if there is an aggravation of the prior injury that was caused by the recent work accident.
Q. If I am driving to or from work and I am involved in a motor vehicle accident, is this injury covered by the Act?
A: Usually your injuries will not be covered, unless you are a traveling employee and your work time begins when you leave your home and ends when you return.
Q. I was “horsing around” with another employee at work. Is this covered under the Act?
A: If your employer is aware of this activity and has gone along with it in the past, then your injury may be considered compensable. If you were “horsing around,” stopped so that you could return to work, the other employee continued the horseplay, and that led to the injury, this may be considered compensable.
Information about benefits awarded under the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act and work restrictions
Q. What benefits am I entitled to if I have a compensable work injury?
A. If your injury is deemed compensable by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, you are entitled to the following benefits:
- Payment of your lost wages—at 2/3 of your average weekly wage—for as long as you are ordered not to work by the physician authorized by the insurance company.
- Payment for a permanent partial impairment rating, if the physician feels that you have permanent impairment because of your work injury.
- Payment of medical expenses to doctors selected by your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier and reimbursement of your out-of-pocket expenses, including medication costs and mileage traveled if you are required to travel outside the country of your employer.
Q. How often will I receive my TTD check? What if I don’t receive it on time?
A. You should receive your TTD pay weekly or biweekly. If you do not receive your check on time, contact the adjuster assigned to your claim for an explanation. In some circumstances, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier must send you a form terminating your benefits.
Q. How will my TTD wages be calculated if I did not work for my employer for 52 weeks prior to my work injury?
A. Your total earnings—including tips, overtime, and commissions—will be divided by the number of weeks that you did work. If you were a new employee when you were injured, the wages of another employee performing a similar job may be used to calculate your average weekly wage.
Q. What if my employer has a job for me that meets the restrictions of the doctor chosen by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, but I do not take that job?
A. If you choose not to accept the light-duty position that you are offered, your TTD pay will be suspended by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Q. The doctor chosen by my employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier says that I can return to my job on light-duty restrictions, but my employer told me not to come back to work until I have no restrictions. What will happen to my lost wages?
A. You will continue to receive TTD benefits until the restrictions are lifted and/or you are released at maximum medical improvement by the doctor chosen by the workers’ compensation carrier, or your employer agrees to have you do limited work.
Q. If I have to see a doctor chosen for me by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, and I have to miss work, will my lost wages be reimbursed?
A. Yes, you will be reimbursed based on your average daily wage.
Q. Can I take a new job with a different employer while I am receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
A. Yes, but your eligibility for lost wage benefits may be affected.
Q. Do I have to claim my TTD wages on my taxes?
Q. After my accident, I was eligible for a raise. Will my total temporary disability rate change to include this increase in my wages?
A. No. Your benefits will remain the same based on your earnings at the time of the accident.
Q. I have received a bill from a doctor authorized by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Do I have to pay the bill?
A. You are not responsible to pay for medical treatment that was for a workplace injury. If you receive bills from authorized medical providers, you should send them to the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim.
Q. Will I be reimbursed for my travel expenses when I have to travel to appointments that were scheduled by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier?
A. If the doctor that has been selected for your treatment is located outside of the county where you worked, you will be reimbursed the rate State of Indiana employees receive per mile for every mile traveled. Meals and lodging may also be reimbursed, depending on the length of travel required. However, meals and lodging for anyone who travels with you will not be reimbursed.
Q. I do not have a car. Can transportation be provided for me?
A. If the appointment is with a doctor selected by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, the carrier may make arrangements for you to travel to the appointment. You should contact the adjuster for your claim to see if you are eligible for your transportation to be covered.
Q. After I receive a permanent partial impairment rating when can I expect to receive my settlement?
A. A PPI settlement is usually received in a lump sum amount. However, the law does allow the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to pay this settlement on a weekly basis in the amount of 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage.
Q. Does the permanent partial impairment rating I was assigned take into account my pain and suffering?
A. No, in an Indiana workers’ compensation claim, there is no compensation for pain and suffering.
Q. Does the permanent partial impairment rating take into account the disfigurement to my body that is a result of my work injury?
A. Unless you have no other impairments and your disfigurement will result in a decrease in your future earnings, the rating will not take into account any disfigurement.
Q. Do I have to claim the money I receive for the permanent partial impairment rating on my taxes?
Q. If I want a second opinion on my permanent partial impairment rating, who is responsible for paying for the examination?
A: You are responsible for paying for any second opinion PPI examination.
Q. My injury resulted in amputation. Do I receive any other benefits because of the amputation?
A. By law, you are entitled to double the amount that your permanent partial impairment rating is worth.
Q. I have received more than 125 weeks of TTD pay, which has been deducted from my PPI settlement. Is this correct?
A. According to the Worker’s Compensation Act, if TTD benefits are paid for more than 125 weeks, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier may get a credit to use against the PPI award. Essentially, this results in a deduction in your PPI settlement.
Q. If I am awarded permanent total disability, will I be paid weekly or in a lump sum?
A. It depends on what the injured worker, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and the Board agree to.
Q. What happens at the end of 500 weeks if I am permanently and totally disabled?
A. If you have received TTD payments for 500 weeks, you should complete an Application for Second Injury Fund Benefits (form 51247). The Second Injury Fund is a state fund that provides a continuation of TTD benefits for some permanently totally disabled individuals.
Q. If I am given a high permanent partial impairment rating, will I automatically qualify for permanent total disability benefits?
A. Impairment and disability are two different terms. Impairment refers to your loss of function, while disability refers to your inability to work. Your impairment rating is only one factor among many to determine whether or not you are permanently totally disabled. A high impairment rating does not necessarily mean you are disabled.
Q. How long can I receive benefits from the Second Injury Fund?
A. If you remain permanently totally disabled, you are eligible to receive Second Injury Fund benefits for the rest of your life. However, you must re-apply for benefits every 150 weeks.
Q. Will the Second Injury Fund pay for my medical treatment?
A. No, the Second Injury Fund does not pay for any type of medical treatment. The purpose of the Second Injury Fund is to pay for lost wages, prosthetics, or prosthetic repairs.
Q. What happens if a deceased worker has no dependents?
A. If a deceased worker has no dependents, only the related medical expenses and up to $7,500.00 of the burial expenses will be paid.
Q. When my claim was denied, I submitted my medical bills to my private health insurance carrier. What happens to the money that my health insurance company has paid?
A. If you are awarded workers’ compensation benefits, the benefits paid by your health insurance company should be reimbursed by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Make sure that this issue is addressed before signing the final settlement agreement. Otherwise, you will be responsible for reimbursing your private health insurance carrier with your settlement money.
Q. After my claim was denied, I applied for short-term disability benefits for the time that I was off of work. What happens to that money if I am awarded workers’ compensation benefits?
A. If you are awarded workers’ compensation benefits, you may only claim the difference—if any—between the short- or long-term-disability pay that you received and what you would have been entitled to in TTD benefits. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier should then reimburse the short- or long-term disability carrier what was paid to you. However, you might be entitled to both TTD & STD/LTD if you paid the STD/LTD premium.
Q. I received unemployment benefits because I was laid off after I was injured at work. Does this affect my claim for lost wages?
A. Possibly. If the period of time that you claim for unemployment is the same as the time that you were off of work because of your work injury, you may or may not receive TTD pay for this same period of time. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier 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 workers’ compensation.
Information about medical treatment and authorized care
Q. I do not like the doctor that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has chosen for me. Can I choose a different doctor?
A. No. If you choose a different doctor or choose to stop seeing the doctor chosen for you, your benefits may be terminated or suspended for non-compliance. In Indiana, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has the right to choose the doctors who examine you. If you seek treatment with a doctor not chosen by the insurance company, you will be responsible for paying for that treatment. However, if you have “good cause”, the insurance carrier might be required to pay for your own doctor.
Q. While receiving physical therapy for my work-related back injury, the physical therapist did something to my neck. Now, my neck hurts constantly, and it never hurt before physical therapy. Who is responsible for paying for the treatment of my new neck injury?
A. Any new injuries or aggravations of work injuries which are caused by the medical treatment offered by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier remain the responsibility of your employer.
Q. Can the nurse case manager or workers’ compensation insurance carrier look at my medical records?
A. The workers’ compensation carrier has the right to see your medical records from the doctors they have chosen to examine you. You also have the right to obtain these records on your own to review them. However, in order to see any medical records that are unrelated to your work injury, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will require a signed authorization from you.
Q. Can I request a new nurse case manager?
A. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier may voluntarily select another nurse, if you request a new nurse case manager. If the insurance company refuses and you wish to have the nurse case manager removed from your case, you should contact the Ombudsman Division at the Board for further assistance. You may need to file a Request for Assistance (form 45442) in order for an Ombudsman to investigate your complaint.
Q. What should I do if my nurse case manager insists on coming into the room while I am being seen by the doctor?
A. The nurse case manager is not required to be present while the doctor is examining you. You have the right to request that he or she wait outside of the room during the examination. After the examination, he or she may discuss the examination with the doctor. If the case manager still insists on coming into the room, inform the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim immediately.
Q. The doctor chosen by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has released me from treatment, but I still think that I need more treatment. What should I do?
A. Once you have been released by the doctor chosen by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, you may choose your own doctor, but you will be responsible for those costs. There is no guarantee that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay for expenses from providers that they did not authorize. You may also be eligible for a free second opinion, an “independent medical exam.”
Q. Who is responsible for paying for the Board-appointed independent medical examination?
A. Your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier is responsible for paying for that examination.
Q. I have not received a form that allows me to request an independent medical examination, but I have been released from the doctor chosen by the workers’ compensation carrier. What should I do?
A. You should contact the adjuster for your claim. If you find out that you are not eligible for a Board-appointed independent medical examination, you can seek one at your own expense in order to use that doctor’s report as leverage for reinstatement of your benefits. However, your benefits will only be reinstated if the doctor’s report is in your favor. If you do seek an independent medical examination on your own, be sure that you choose your doctor carefully.
Q. I have been released back to work, but I am afraid that my employer will ask me to work against a doctor’s restrictions. What should I do?
A. Make sure that you provide your employer with a written copy of your restrictions signed by your doctor. Indicate to your employer that you are willing to return to work, but that you are not willing to violate a doctor’s orders.
Information about filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits
Q. I was injured at work. What should I do?
A. If you are injured at work, notify your boss or supervisor immediately, regardless of how serious your injury is, and insist that they prepare a written accident report. If you decide to file a workers’ compensation claim, your boss or supervisor is required to let you file the claim.
Q. How long does the workers’ compensation insurance company have to investigate my claim?
A. From the date that you file your claim, the insurance company has 30 days to investigate your claim. The insurance company is required to notify you of whether they will approve or deny your claim within that time. The time limit to investigate the claim may be extended only if the insurance company files a request with the State of Indiana.
Q. I am a truck driver who lives in another state but was injured in Indiana. In which state should I file a workers’ compensation claim?
A. Generally, you should file a claim for workers’ compensation in Indiana if you were injured in Indiana or your employer is based in Indiana.
Q. My employer refuses to let me file a claim. What should I do?
A. Contact an attorney immediately. You can also contact the Ombudsman Division of the Workers’ Compensation Board for assistance if you do not want to hire an attorney.
Q. Can I reopen my settled claim?
A. Yes, this form is used for new claims and for re-opening settled claims. You may attempt to re-open your case by filing an application for adjustment of claim.
Q. Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
A. No. Indiana law prohibits an employer firing an injured employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you believe that your employer fired you in retaliation for filing a claim, contact the Indiana Department of Labor to file a complaint.
Q. My employer fired me because of my permanent disabilities due to my work accident. I was told that they were concerned that I would re-injure myself. Can I be fired for this reason?
A. If you are someone with a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you cannot be fired if there is no direct threat or risk of re-injury. Fear that someone will be re-injured is not grounds for firing someone with a disability due to a workplace accident.
Q. My employer says that if I am not able to work without any restrictions, I will be fired. What should I do?
A. If your employer fires you because you cannot work without restrictions, you may be entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This would be true if you felt that you were being discriminated against because your disability prevented you from performing a non-essential task, or if there was a way for your employer to accommodate your restrictions, but which your employer chose not to do. If you feel that your employer is in violation of the ADA, you should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1-800-669-4000).
Q. My employer has videotaped evidence that shows me fixing my roof after I injured my shoulder and back, so they denied my claim. Is this legal? Can it be used against me?
A. It is legal for your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier to use surveillance videos as part of their investigation if properly entered as evidence before a hearing, the video can be used against you and if your employer believes that you were being dishonest.
Q. I am in the process of filing a claim for an occupational disease, but I do not know which of my employers is responsible, since I was repeatedly exposed to the same chemical in my previous and current jobs.
A. The place of employment where you were last exposed to the harmful substance should be the one that you list on the form. However, if that latest employer was short term, you may need to include one or more prior employers.
Q. How long does it take to get a hearing before a judge?
A. It depends. Every case is different. The Worker’s Compensation Board requires the injured worker and his employer to make attempts to settle their disputes on their own before bringing them in front of a judge. Going through this process can take some time.
Q. Will I have to come to Indianapolis for my hearing?
A. Not necessarily. Hearings are scheduled in either the county where the injury occurred, the county where the employer is located, or a county nearby.
Q. Do I have to submit to a drug test to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
A: A workers’ compensation claim cannot be denied because an injured employee refused to submit to a drug test. However, if your employer has a drug screening policy, and you refuse to comply, this can be grounds for termination of your benefits. If you are terminated for this reason, which is considered unrelated to the work accident, your TTD pay may be refused.
Information about FMLA, Social Security, Medicare, and permanent disability
Q. If I have a work injury, do I automatically qualify for FMLA leave?
A. Public entities are automatically covered, but private businesses must have 50 or more employees to be covered. As an employee of a qualifying employer, you must have worked for this employer for a total of one year or more, accumulated at least 1,250 hours of work at this business within the last year, and have a qualifying injury.
Q. If I take time off through FMLA and return before the 12 weeks has ended, does my employer have to return me to the same job I was in before I left?
A. Yes, when it is possible. Otherwise, your employer can return you to a position that is comparable to the position you were in when you left.
Q. I recently settled a workers’ compensation case. Because of my medical condition, I still need to see a doctor on a regular basis. I am eligible for Medicare benefits, but Medicare has told me that they will not cover my work injury until I have accumulated enough medical bills from treating on my own that equal the amount of my workers’ compensation award. Is this correct?
A. Yes, if all or a portion of your settlement was meant to cover the cost of future medical treatment for your injury. In situations where the settlement includes payment for future medical care as well as other damages, the portion of the settlement that is specifically intended for medical care is the amount that Medicare will want the injured worker to spend on medical treatment before they begin paying benefits.
Q. I cannot return to my job because of my work injury. This is the only type of job I have ever had. Am I permanently totally disabled?
A: Not necessarily. By law, an injured worker must be unable to engage in any reasonable form of employment in order to be eligible for permanent total disability benefits.