I have a back injury and was on light duty for 2 weeks which was not helping. During this time I was being paid my normal salary and workman's comp was paying me additional money. I asked my HR that this didn't seem right to receive extra money. I was told that they had to basically include all bonus and overtime money earned over the last year since "I was use to this amount of pay". My doc pulled me from work and now I'm only being paid 69% of my pay. I can't pay my bills at 69% of my normal pay. I'm afraid I will be behind and possibly lose my house (everything is current at this point) Why am I losing money when none of this was my fault? Why pay me more for light duty?
WC benefits are tax-free, so the difference between regular pay and TTD should not be large. You have a WC claim because you were hurt during work, and you potentially also have a 3rd Party Civil suit against both the Driver and Company who struck you. You get do not get Pain and Suffering in WC, but you do get P&S in The 3rd Party case. There will probably be a partial offset between the two recoveries, but a sharp Attorney can characterize some of the Civil recovery as benefits that do not offset.
Your question raises a number of issues, many that have been addressed by prior answers. Regarding your wage and time loss issue, in Washington your wages for calculating time loss benefits will be based on your wages at the time of your injury. It sounds like your situation is a little bit unique. However, it is important that you verify the amount of and type of income that LNI is using to calculate your wages. If you had regular bonus income and overtime, those should be included also. Overtime is averaged and the overtime hours are added to your base salary at your regular pay rate. Because the overtime is averaged, you will want to make sure that they are using a fair average and including an amount of overtime hours that fairly represent your lost income. When working your light duty position, your employer may have opted to pay you your full salary and it might have created an Loss of Earning Power situation - which is another type of benefit in Washington state. You should find out how your wages are being calculated and make sure that your overtime and your bonus are being fairly included. The 69 percent figure is based on being married with dependants. Your time loss benefits are not taxable, which should make a difference. If your employer paid for your health care benefits and stops paying for those benefits, that income should be factored in for calculation of your wages. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact a workers compensation attorney in Washington - most give free consultations.
The other issue that is raised by your question is the presence of a third party negligence action against the other driver. As prior contributors pointed out, you should contact a Washington attorney that handles both personal injury actions and LNI claims. That type of attorney can make sure that both of your cases are going smoothly and work towards maximizing your recovery in both claims. Your third party action against the other driver has a three year statute of limitiations. LNI or your self insured employer will likely send you a document called an election form. If it is clear liablity, your best option is to hire an attorney to represent your interests. The type of damages that can be recovered for you in a civil negligence action exceed benefits that are paid in an LNI case. Under your workers compensation claim, for example, there is no recovery for inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, or pain and suffering. Those type of damages can be recovered in the third party action.
There are a lot of intricacies when working through a claim for personal injuries as well as worker's comp, but in the end it usually provides more benefit to you than if you were rear-ended after hours in your own car (i.e. if you were hurt after hours, then you would not get worker's comp to pay any wage loss since it was not an on-the-job injury). It is normal that worker's comp does not pay the full salary and the amount can also change depending on whether you have spouse and kids. We have been able to make up the difference in shorted salary in some cases where a person has Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. Hopefully your doctors can get you well enough to get back to work soon so you don't have to worry about the wage loss.
Either way, the other responders are right that you should hire a local personal injury lawyer. The complexities of your case go far beyond the wage loss element an you want to make sure you are protected. Hope this helps!
WC is only required to pay a percentage of your average weekly wage in TTD benefits. As my colleague stated, WC benefits are tax free so the difference between your TTD check and your regular check minus taxes should be fairly close.
You should contact a local WA attorney who handles both work comp and personal injury. That attorney can protect your rights and help maximize your recovery in both cases. Keep in mind that work comp's only goal is to get you treated enough to get you back to work. They are not operating in your best interest. You have the PI claim to think about as well. You need an attorney who is familiar with both aspects.
Also, work comp will likely put a lien on any recovery you get from the third party; however, they typically reduce that lien when you have an attorney b/c they are responsible for their fair share of attorney fees and expenses in pursuing the claim.
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