Big Change Number One.
Currently if you are injured and you cannot return to suitable employment, you are entitled to draw workers' compensation benefits for life. For nearly twenty years Todd Oxner has been telling people if they live to 102 and die in a bar room brawl they'll get paid until they're 102. No more. "Lifetime" claims are now limited to 500 weeks unless you are completely disabled from all work - not just suitable employment. Basically it's going to be 500 weeks unless you are in a wheelchair. As long as you can work as a Wal-Mart greeter on a stool it's 500 weeks. It's somewhat more complicated than that and we will deal with that in an upcoming article. But it won't apply to most people at all.
Big Change Number Two.
If (when) you return to work at reduced wages you will be entitled to draw wage loss for a period of 500 weeks. That is an increase from the 300 weeks under current law. Same as now, any week of total disability paid is deducted from the 500 week total. But in a positive twist, the 500 weeks is not a timer that begins on the date of accident. If your employer brings you back to work in transitional duty or make-work for a period of time that period is not deducted from the 500 week total.
It is important to note that these changes apply to cases arising after June 24, 2011.
There are some significant twists to these provisions which we will be addressing in upcoming weeks. In the meanwhile, however, if you have a new case, most of the strategies which were used before are now not going to work. Call Oxner + Permar and let us help you work out a roadmap to your success in workers' compensation.