Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Serving Clients Throughout Michigan
In Michigan, nearly all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that provides medical, wage replacement, and other benefits to employees who are injured on the job or suffer injuries/occupational illnesses due to work-related activities. In other words, if you are hurt at work or while doing anything that benefits your employer, you are likely covered by workers’ compensation.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be tricky. Plus, many initial workers’ compensation claims are disputed or denied. If you need help with your workers’ comp claim, contact Bahrie Law, PLLC. Since 1979, we have been representing injured workers throughout the state of Michigan, helping them navigate the workers’ compensation system and fight to recover the maximum allowable benefits they were owed.
On this page, we’ve provided answers to the workers’ compensation questions we hear most often. If you have additional questions or want to know how the rules and laws apply to your case, do not hesitate to reach out to our offices in Lansing and Metro Detroit. We are happy to discuss your legal rights and options during a free, confidential consultation. Call 888-473-1289 today to get started.
Who is eligible for workers’ compensation in Michigan?
When discussing who is eligible for workers’ compensation in Michigan, it is actually easier to look at who is not entitled to benefits. Very few employees in the state are not eligible for workers’ compensation, and most are covered by other outstanding benefits. These include federal employees, and certain railroad, agricultural and maritime workers.
In Michigan, you are eligible for workers’ compensation if you meet the following criteria:
- Your injuries/illness occurred on the job or due to work-related activities/conditions
- You are classified as an “employee,” whether part-time, full-time or seasonal
- Your injury/illness was not the result of your own willful or wanton misconduct/negligence
All work-related injuries and occupational diseases are covered by workers’ compensation, including those caused by one-time accidents, ongoing occupational exposure, and other employment-related duties, activities, and conditions. You do not have to prove that anyone was negligent or that your employer was “at fault” for your injuries/illness to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
For example, if you are a truck driver and were injured in a commercial vehicle accident while on the job, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits if you meet all other eligibility requirements. The same is true if you are an office worker who suffers carpal tunnel syndrome from excessive typing, a construction worker who falls from scaffolding due to OSHA violations or an industrial worker who sustains a severe repetitive-motion back injury.
What workers’ compensation benefits are available?
In Michigan, injured employees are entitled to several different types of benefits under the workers’ compensation system, including:
- Medical Benefits: Workers’ compensation covers all “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses related to the treatment of your work-related injury or illness. This includes emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, medications, and other one-time and ongoing costs.
- Wage Loss Benefits: Workers who are unable to return to work temporarily and/or permanently can recover wage loss benefits through the Michigan workers’ compensation system. These benefits are calculated via a percentage of the worker’s average weekly wage, subject to specific caps.
- Total Permanent Disability: For those who are permanently and completely disabled due to a work-related injury or illness, workers’ compensation pays total permanent disability benefits. A “total and permanent disability” is defined as the loss of two limbs/use of two limbs, an incurable mental health disorder or complete blindness.
- Specific Loss Benefits: The Michigan workers’ compensation system pays specific loss benefits to those who suffer certain injuries. Specifically, eligible employees who lose function/use of an arm, eye, finger, foot, leg or toe can receive up to 80% of their post-tax average weekly wage, subject to caps.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Workers’ compensation pays vocational rehabilitation benefits, which assist with various costs associated with retraining, education and job-placement services. Vocational rehabilitation benefits also pay for changes to workstations and other related expenses.
When an individual dies due to a work-related injury or illness, their surviving dependents (spouse, children, etc.) can recover death benefits. These include up to $6,000 for burial/funeral expenses and up to 80% of the deceased workers’ average weekly wage for a period of 500 weeks (or more in some cases).
What should I do after being injured on the job?
If you are injured on the job or while doing anything that benefits your employer, there are a few important steps you should take to protect your health, safety and rights:
- Seek medical treatment right away; if necessary, call 911
- Report the work-related injury or illness to your employer immediately (by law, you must notify your employer within 90 days)
- Follow all of your doctor’s orders, recommendations and treatment plans
- Do not try to return to work before your doctor authorizes you to do so (including light-duty work)
- Make sure your employer files an Employer’s Basic Report of Injury form with the Bureau of Workers’ Disability Compensation
Note that you have two years from the date of injury (or the date on which you discovered or reasonably could have discovered the injury) to file a workers’ compensation claim in Michigan. In most cases, you should begin receiving benefits after a week of being unable to work due to your injury or illness. If you have any issues with the claims filing process or getting your benefits paid, contact a workers’ compensation attorney at Bahrie Law, PLLC, right away.
What can I do if my claim was denied or my benefits have been terminated?
If your employer disputes your claim, if their insurance company denies you benefits, or if your benefits are terminated early, you have the right to file an appeal. Our attorneys can help with all aspects of the appeals process.
Why do I need a workers’ compensation attorney? Am I required to hire one?
While you are not required to hire an attorney to file a workers’ compensation claim in Michigan, it is wise to do so. This is especially true if you encounter any pushback from your employer or disputes from the insurance company. As a worker, you have rights. Our attorneys are ready to fight for those rights and advocate for the fair benefits you deserve.
Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related illness?
Yes, you can. Even if there has been no accident, many jobs can be deleterious to health or expose workers to dangerous or toxic substances. Some of the most commonly cited occupational diseases and illness are those linked to breathing contaminated or otherwise unsafe air. They include mesothelioma, asbestosis, silicosis and black lung.
If you need to seek workers’ comp benefits for an occupational illness, it is important to know that these cases are often contested, and insurers will claim that there is an insufficient causal link to workplace exposure. This is especially true for diseases that take years or decades to develop. Insurers often try to argue that diseases like cancer are “ordinary diseases of life,” and it is up to the worker to prove that workplace exposure was the cause or a significant contributing factor.
While occupational illness cases can be complex, they are not impossible for workers to win. Our attorneys have decades of experience and a strong track record of success in cases like these.
Can I receive workers’ compensation benefits if my injury is due to a co-worker’s negligence?
Yes. As stated above, fault is not a consideration when awarding workers’ compensation benefits, except in cases where the injured worker may have engaged in willful and wanton misconduct.
The coworker who caused your injuries could potentially face disciplinary measures imposed by the company for their negligent actions, but that would have no impact on your workers’ compensation claim.
Do I need to see an insurer-approved physician for my work-related injury?
Yes, you do, at least initially. In Michigan, injured workers are required to be treated by an approved medical care provider for the first 28 days of their treatment. If they need additional care after that time, they are allowed to switch to their own provider, but they are required to notify the proper party or parties (insurer, employer or both) in writing.
If your workplace injury requires immediate medical care at an emergency room, you do not need to check whether the physician treating you is approved by your employer or insurer. Once you are stable, however, you’ll need to switch to a provider on a list of approved physicians.
How long can I receive workers’ compensation benefits? What happens if my injuries are permanent?
Workers’ compensation benefits can be paid for the remainder of the worker’s life, but there are caveats depending on the type of benefit. There is no cap on the duration of medical treatment benefits so long as the treatment is work-injury related and considered reasonable and necessary.
There is no durational cap on lost wage benefits, either, but they may change over time. For instance, when a permanently injured or disabled worker reaches retirement age, their workers’ compensation benefits may be gradually stepped down or offset by a portion of the person’s Social Security retirement benefits.
If you are likely to be permanently injured or disabled, the insurance company may offer you a lump-sum settlement in exchange for future benefits. This can be beneficial to you under certain conditions. You may also have the option of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, which is another type of representation our attorneys provide.
The smartest course of action will depend on the circumstances of your case, which is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney like those at our firm.
Am I eligible for benefits if I get injured while commuting to and from work?
In many cases, the answer is no. Commuting is generally considered time “off the clock,” and is therefore not directly part of the job. There are some important exceptions, however. Your travel-related injuries could be compensable if:
- You were running a work-related errand or doing something else requested or required by your supervisor or employer (such as picking up donuts on your way to a morning meeting)
- You were on a business trip or otherwise traveling as part of your job
- You were on the clock and traveling between work sites
- You were in a company-provided vehicle
- You were injured on the employers’ property (such as in the parking lot) where you normally work and the injury occurred just before or after your work hours
It can be confusing to determine whether auto accidents and other traveling injuries are compensable under Michigan workers’ compensation laws. When you contact us for a free consultation, our attorneys can help you understand your rights and legal options.
What happens if I am injured while working from home?
You would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits so long as your injuries “arise out of and in the course of employment.” They would need to have occurred on the clock and be related to how your work is performed.
Realistically, the burden of proof is on the person filing the claim to demonstrate that they suffered a work-related injury, not simply a home injury that occurred where they also happen to work. This can be a tough (though not necessarily impossible) burden to meet.
Get Answers To Your Questions During A Free Initial Consultation
Our firm represents injured employees throughout Michigan, as well as the families of those who die due to work-related accidents, injuries and diseases. We bring more than four decades of legal experience and a proven track record of success to every case. To date, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients, and we look forward to helping you get back on your feet after a serious workplace accident or injury.