Find a Top Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Michigan
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Workers in Michigan have peace of mind in knowing that if they have to miss time from work due to a workplace injury or condition, they have workers’ compensation insurance to support them. It is designed to offer support in those times and to ensure any worker is not out of pocket for things such as medical bills.
But we all know that any bureaucracy will always have its flaws, and while the workers’ compensation law is a well-intentioned scheme, it does not always work as well as it should. When that does happen, having the help of a suitably qualified attorney can ensure that an injured worker receives the benefits they are entitled to can remove any stress and worry.
In 2017, there were just under 94,000 non-fatal accidents among employees in the public sector in Michigan. This represents an incidence of 3.1 cases per 100 workers, higher than the national rate of 2.8.
In 2018, there were 155 workplace fatalities in Michigan, of which 50 were due to transportation incidents. This area also accounts for the biggest number of deaths nationally.
Every worker in Michigan should learn what their legal rights are in respect to workplace injuries. The state law in Michigan says that all employers must hold workers compensation insurance to provide certain benefits in case of absence from work due to injuries received at their workplace or illnesses caused by workplace conditions.
An important caveat with workers comp insurance is that if you make a claim for benefits, then you are surrendering any right to pursue a claim against your employer. However, you can still make workers’ compensation claims and pursue a claim against a third party where they hold liability for the incident.
An example of this could be if you were injured while using a piece of machinery that was later proven to have a defect caused at the point of manufacture or due to poor maintenance. To pursue a third party claim, you need to be able to show:
- That you had an accident related to your work or workplace.
- That the named third party had a duty of care towards you (for example, to ensure that a piece of machinery was well-maintained and safe).
- That the named third party failed in that duty of care (they failed to maintain the machinery).
- That you were injured (or have a condition or illness)
- That your injury (or condition or illness) was caused by your workplace accident or workplace.
As with any bureaucratic process, there are certain rules and regulations surrounding any work related injury that you have to follow. The law says that you must have reported your workplace injury within 90 days of it happening. Despite that 90-day rule, disputes are often raised if a worker reports their injury later rather than sooner. The rules also say that you are only required to report any incident verbally to a manager.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. recommends two courses of actions regarding these factors:
- If you are injured on the job, always report it immediately, no matter how minor any injuries may initially seem. The effects of some injuries may not fully manifest until some time after the original accident.
- Always submit a written report on the accident. Most employers will have a formal reporting system and specific forms. If they do not, you can submit your own written report, even if just by email. By doing this, you create a clear paper trail that may be used as evidence later.
There is one exception to the 90-day rule. If you develop an illness as a result of workplace conditions or a workplace incident, the 90 days starts from the day that any condition is identified as being caused by your workplace.
With cases relating to illnesses or conditions, there is a need to prove that any condition was not pre-existing.
Michigan workers’ compensation covers a wide range of benefits. In some cases, you may be able to get your settlement as a lump sum payment instead of monthly payments.
- All reasonable costs for medical expenses related to the injury. This can include not only the initial treatment needed, but also any relevant ongoing treatment and medications, any rehabilitation treatment such as physiotherapy, and also counseling if needed.
- To cover lost wages, an injured worker will receive a percentage of their monthly salary.
- If your injury prevents you from returning to your former role – or even former place of employment – then there is money available for retraining or vocational rehabilitation.
- In circumstances where the injury has resulted in the loss of a limb or other body part, then compensation will be paid.
- In the event of wrongful death, a surviving spouse or dependants will receive the award and will also receive $6,000 toward funeral costs.
It would be an ideal world if the benefits you were entitled to were paid out with no problems or hurdles. But the fact is that many issues can arise with your claim, leaving you with no money, mounting bills, and added worry and stress.
Disputes and issues can arise from various factors. The primary issues many claimants face is with the insurance companies. Any initial settlement offer can be a lot less than you expected, or that you are entitled to. To put the reason simply, insurance companies do not like paying out money, and when they have to, they will always try and pay the least amount possible.
Another area where a dispute may arise over your workers’ compensation benefits is to do with the time period in which you reported the incident.
One problem that is being tackled by the Michigan attorney-general is that of payroll fraud by misclassifying workers. While this may sometimes happen by accident, it is generally an attempt by employers to both deprive the state of tax revenue and to avoid paying workers’ compensation claims.
They do this by classifying workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. If this has happened to you, please seek legal advice from an experienced law firm such as Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.
Although many workers compensation claims will be settled with no dispute and with full entitled benefits paid, thousands more will face some sort of problem at some stage of the process. Engaging with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure that those problems are overcome.
They can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to make sure any settlement offer is increased, they can introduce medical evidence and testimony from expert witnesses where there is a dispute over your injuries or the timeframe they were reported in, and they can represent you if you have been misclassified as an independent contractor.
If you have suffered a personal injury as a result of a workplace accident, then your primary focus should be on recovery and rehabilitation. The last thing you need is the anxiety of having to worry about mounting medical bills and lost wages.
To help you through your case, you want a competent law office such as Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. who have many years experience in this area of the law. One of our senior partners is a nurse attorney. She can help interpret any medical records and also discuss your case with any involved medical experts.
We offer a free initial consultation to evaluate your circumstances and to build an attorney client relationship. To schedule an appointment, please call us today at 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.