Does my Employer Have to Cover Physical Therapy from my Work Injury?
Safety at work is the employer and employee’s responsibility, but accidents do happen, and musculoskeletal injuries are very common in workplace accidents. Physical therapy is a non-invasive treatment for pain and inflammation, but how does one navigate Worker’s Comp, and where can you find relief for long term injuries? Work accident compensation is a complex issue and requires the input of a work injury lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., to deal with the myriad of rules and procedures.
Leading Causes of Workplace Injuries
According to the Insurance Journal, the most common injuries in the workplace (with 2012 costs) are:
- Overexertion ($15 billion)
- Falls on same level ($9 billion)
- Struck by object or equipment ($5.3 billion)
- Falls to lower level ($5 billion)
- Other exertions or bodily reactions ($4.3 billion)
- Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle ($3.2 billion)
- Slip or trip without fall ($2.2 billion)
- Caught in/compressed by equipment or objects ($2 billion)
- Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks ($1.8 billion)
- Struck against object or equipment ($1.8 billion)
Benefits of Physical Therapy
Musculoskeletal injuries require physical therapy to improve:
- Relieve pain
- Minimizes the risk of dependence on heavy painkillers
- Restore function and movement
- Reduce the duration of an injury
- Help prevent surgeries
- Correct imbalances and improve work conditions
- Prevent the risk of future injury
- Promote long-term health
What is Workers’ Compensation
More commonly referred to as Worker’s Comp, it is insurance that covers expenses related to a worker’s work-related injuries or illness.
It covers immediate costs such as ambulance costs, emergency room visits and other medical bills, as well as ongoing care such as surgery, specialist treatment, rehabilitation and physical therapy. Depending on your employer’s policy, it may cover part of lost wages and their legal cost if you decide to sue your employer. Some policies cover funeral costs and death benefits.
As employers can be held liable for most costs related to a work-related injury, many states require certain employers to buy Worker’s Compensation Insurance. Your workplace accident lawyer can assist with queries on these issues.
Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance Law
Michigan law requires employers to prove that it can pay benefits in the event of a workplace injury, and some businesses are required by law to carry Worker’s Comp insurance:
- Public employers.
- Employed one (or more) workers for 35 hours (or more) for 13 weeks (or more) during the preceding year.
- Private employer that regularly employs three or more people at a time.
- Agricultural employer that employed three (or more) workers for 35 hours (or more) for 13 weeks (or more) during the preceding year.
- Household that employed one (or more) domestic workers for 35 hours (or more) for 13 weeks (or more) during the preceding year.
Part-time employees are entitled to Worker’s Comp if the business employs three or more people at a time regularly. A sole proprietor is excluded unless it employs workers.
Your employer has the right to choose the doctor during the first 28 days of treatment, after that you may change doctors, but must notify your employer and insurance company.
The Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency (WCA) enforces the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act. It is administered by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the WCA.
What if my Injuries are not Fully Covered by Worker’s Comp?
Worker’s Compensation Insurance will typically pay for the worker’s medical bills and part of their lost wages, but the employee can still file a suit against their employer if they feel the employer was at fault and that their negligence resulted in the accident and injury.
Many employers believe that injured employees are abusing physical and occupational therapy without seeing the expected results, which is pushing up their Worker’s Comp payments, and the benefit is only covered until you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) as determined by your physician. You will need the best workplace injury lawyer, such as Eileen Kroll at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., to assist you with negotiating ongoing treatment with their insurance company.
In Michigan, the right to recovery of benefits as provided in the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act is your exclusive remedy against your employer for work-related injuries or diseases, and you cannot sue your employer for benefits not provided for in the Act. If your employer does not have insurance consult a work injury attorney.
Some states include employer’s liability insurance as part of Worker’s Comp Insurance; a few do not. Employer’s liability insurance will cover the cost of a negligence lawsuit for example lawyers’ fees and settlements or awards, however, the insurance carrier will offer the employee a low settlement offer, and though you may be tempted to accept the offer to be able to pay your mounting medical bills and replace lost wages, you are strongly advised to consult with a work injury compensation lawyer that is experienced in negotiation with insurance companies to handle your claim and secure the compensation you are entitled to.
In addition, injuries sometimes occur in the physical therapist office, which can increase your recovery time, but the employer may not want to pay for additional treatment. Your workplace injury lawyer can advise you what to do here.
Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation in Michigan
An injured worker must give notice to the employer within 30 days of the injury, either verbally or in writing. It’s then the worker’s responsibility to file a claim within the workers’ compensation statute of limitations. Michigan requires that a claim is made within two years of the date of injury.
Does my Employer have to Pay My Wages during Physical Therapy Treatments?
If you are unable to return to work due to your injury, your employer will pay a part of your lost wages, however, once you have returned to work, in a capacity, time for medical treatments are considered off-duty time, and you will not be compensated for this time. You can negotiate with your employer and appeal to their compassion. If you have to travel more than 50 miles to get physical therapy, you may claim part of your travel cost from Worker’s Comp. Make sure that you have the information you require from your employer regarding their Worker’s Comp Insurance policy.
The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have years of experience representing employees injured in work-related accidents, and they are dedicated to helping people receive the compensation they deserve.
Call Eileen Kroll, a registered nurse and worker injury trial attorney, at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a free evaluation of your case. Our law firm does not charge for services until a settlement is reached or an award made.