Lafayette, LA Workers’ Comp Attorney
Workers’ compensation benefits come into play when an employee is injured by accident while in the course and scope of his employment. The purpose of compensation laws is to provide insurance coverage for medical expenses and weekly benefits to an injured employee, regardless of who is at fault in causing the injury. In other words, the injury may be the fault of a co-employee, the employer, the injured employee or even an unrelated person, commonly referred to as a third party.
As a result of the many Louisiana industries involved with water transportation and the offshore oil industry, there are generally two sources of compensation in Louisiana. The first, and most often applicable, is the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act (La. Act). The second is the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Although both acts are similar in many respects, it is generally acknowledged that the LHWCA is the most favorable for injured workers. To qualify under the LHWCA, the employee must have some connection to the marine industry or be injured on a fixed offshore platform in federal waters. Otherwise, a job injury falls under the La. Act. An injured employee enjoys more protection under the LHWCA and the weekly benefits available are more than double those available under the Louisiana Act. The major benefits from compensation insurance are medical expenses and weekly indemnity benefits. The employer’s compensation insurer must pay for all reasonable medical expenses associated with the job injury. If the injury prevents the employee from doing his job, he will receive weekly indemnity benefits during the period of disability, instead of his regular wages. These benefits are calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, subject to a maximum benefit under both acts.
For example, under the La. Act an employee earning $300 per week would receive a weekly benefit of $200. When the employee is released by the doctor to his regular job, weekly benefits are terminated; medical benefits continue if he remains under a doctor’s care. For injuries causing permanent disability, under some circumstances limited settlements are available in lieu of continued benefits. Contrary to popular belief, an employee cannot sue his employer for a job injury to recover for his lost wages, pain and suffering, disability, mental anguish, etc. Only a third party can be sued for these damages.
The workers’ compensation acts present a very complex system of laws that can be manipulated by the insurance companies to the disadvantage of the unrepresented employee. Only in very few cases does an injured worker not need an attorney, but he should always consult with an attorney to explore his legal rights. Call our office today to make sure your legal rights are being protected.