What is Workers’ Compensation?
If you are hurt while you are at work, then you can be compensated for your injury no matter whose fault the injury was thanks to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is like a form of insurance that employers have to pay so that, no matter what, a worker will be compensated for any work-related injury. Workers’ compensation was created to replace the traditional tort system of compensation, in which a worker would sue his employer for a personal injury. However, the tort system did not guarantee a worker any compensation – particularly in cases where the worker himself was at fault. In addition, from the employer’s perspective, the tort system increased the risk of a large personal injury claims.
I’ve Been Injured at Work in Nevada, What Should I do?
- If the situation is an emergency, you should immediately seek medical attention. Tell the emergency medical technicians, nurses, and doctors who are treating your wounds that you were injured while at work if possible. After the situation is no longer an emergency, inform your employer of the injury as soon as possible. (This is the first step you would take if your injury does not cause an emergency.) Your notice should be filed as a C-1 form (“Notice of Injury or Occupational Disease”). This notice must be provided to your employer or his insurer within seven days. Employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to all of their employees, so you will be covered as long as your injury is work-related (unless you were intoxicated or intentionally self-inflicted your injury).
- After you have given your employer notice, you will be able to choose your doctor from a list of approved doctors provided by your employer or his insurer. This doctor will provide you with initial treatment, and determine the extent of your injuries. This doctor will then confirm that you are entitled to workers’ compensation and begin the claims process by filing a C-4 form (“Employee’s Claim for Compensation/Report of Initial Treatment”) and sending it to your employer’s insurer. Your employer’s insurer will then have 30 days to accept or deny your claim. If your claim is approved, you should expect to receive benefits within about a week and a half.
What Type of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Provided by Nevada State Law?
Certain benefits are available and protected by the Industrial Insurance Act of the Nevada Revised Statutes, Chapter 616C. Under this Act, injured workers are entitled to any relevant medical coverage, vocational rehabilitation, and travel reimbursement. However, there benefits primarily used in the Industrial Insurance Act are income benefits. Income benefits compensate workers for lost wages and include:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits in Nevada
Workers who are still healing and cannot return to their jobs because of their injury, may qualify for Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average monthly income from before you were injured. You may be paid TTD benefits until your injury has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), or until you have returned to work at your full previous wage. Although TTD benefits, like every other income benefits, are subject to the maximum and minimum amounts of compensation set by Nevada’s State average monthly wage (as defined by Nevada Revised Statute Chapter 616A, Sec. 65).
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) Benefits in Nevada
If you can return to work while your injury is healing, but earn a wage that is less than two-thirds of you prior average monthly wage, you may qualify for Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits will pay the difference of your post injury wage up to two-thirds of your prior average monthly wage. TPD benefits can be paid until you have reached MMI, earn a wage that is already two-thirds of your prior wage or more, or for up to two years, whichever is sooner.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits in Nevada
Sometimes, injuries never completely heal. If your injury permanently stops you from returning to work, you may qualify for Permanent Total Disability (PTD) benefits. PTD payments are equal to two-thirds of your prior average monthly wage, and will compensate you until you turn 75 years old. There are certain injuries that are generally assumed to be total and permanent in regards to PTD benefits, these injuries include:
- Loss or paralysis of both arms at or above the elbow.
- Loss or paralysis of both legs at or above the knee.
- Loss or paralysis of an arm at or above the elbow, and the loss or paralysis of the leg at or above the knee.
- Complete and permanent blindness in both eyes.
- A head injury that results in incurable imbecility or insanity.
- If your injury is permanent, but does not qualify you for PTD benefits, you may qualify for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits. In this scenario, your doctor will determine your rate of disability in the form of an overall percentage using the American Medical Association’s Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. To calculate the compensation that you may receive from PPD benefits, multiply your average monthly wage from before your injury by .06. Then, take the remaining number and multiply it by your disability rating. This will be how much you can be compensated for PPD benefits.
What Are My Options if my Nevada Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied?
If your claim is denied, the wisest course of action would be to retain an experienced Nevada workers’ compensation attorney. Workers’ compensation attorneys can evaluate your case and will give you a free consult. If you have a viable case, you will have 70 days to file an appeal with the Nevada Department of Administration. Your case will then be reviewed and you may have to attend a hearing regarding your case. A workers’ compensation attorney is critical at this point in the process because you will need strong legal representation to protect your rights. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney should represent you at a hearing if it is necessary.
Nevada Revised Statutes (Chapters 616A-D contain information about workers’ compensation)