Office work would seem to be a safe profession with relatively few on-the-job injuries. Employees can be injured, however, by slippery floors, open file drawers, poor lighting, noise, repetitive trauma to hands, wrists, arms and shoulders, straining the neck and back through overexertion, falling objects and picking up heavy objects and boxes. As it turns out, office work injuries are very common and widespread.
Reporting a Work Injury:
As soon as an injury occurs or as soon as a worker notices an injury developing, the employee should notify the employer. The employer is required to provide medical care to the injured employee. The employer then notifies their Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier.
All employees who are injured on the job are entitled to receive temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits (TTD or TPD). If an employee is able to do light-duty work, TPD will pay him or her at a rate of two-thirds of the difference between the worker’s light-duty salary and his or her pre-injury salary. If an employee cannot work at all after an injury, he or she will receive TTD in an amount that is two thirds of his or her average weekly wage.
Choice of Doctors:
An injured worker has the right to change doctors once. He or she must either choose from the employer’s preferred provider program (PPD) or from another doctor of the employer’s choosing. Once the injured worker has chosen two doctors, the Workers’ Compensation Commission must give approval for appointing another physician.
The medical care provided for a Workers’ Compensation injury is paid for by the insurance carrier. The employee is not required to pay anything.
Litigating a Case:
If the employee disputes an action by the employer or insurance carrier, he or she can file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. A case number is then assigned, and the employee can then set the matter for a hearing before a Workers’ Compensation judge.
Every three months, the case will come up for review by the Workers’ Compensation judge. All parties appear and must illustrate that the case is moving forward. After three years, there will be a status hearing before the judge, and all parties must provide adequate reason why the case has not either settled or gone to trial. Otherwise, the case will be dismissed.
Settlement and Trial:
Most Workers’ Compensation cases settle, some for a lump sum and others for a continuing monthly benefit. If the applicant does not approve the settlement, the case will then go to trial before the judge, who will decide on the case. If the applicant prevails at trial, he or she will receive a dollar amount for the level of permanent disability. This will be paid out monthly until the amount of the award has been exhausted.
If the office work injuries prevent the worker from returning to his or her job, vocational counseling, training and job placement are provided by the insurance carrier.