The worker's compensation law in Indiana governs benefits for employees injured on the job. To accept this benefit, employees give up the option to sue their employers. Worker's compensation coverage is compulsory for all Indiana employers.
Employees are entitled to coverage from the first day of employment, whether they are paid hourly or draw a salary. The company’s executive officers, part-time and minor workers also are covered. Volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians get medical treatment and death benefit coverage only.
Certain groups, such as athletes, volunteers, and real estate professionals, are exempt from coverage. This is because they aren't considered “employees.” Railroad workers also aren't eligible, since they're covered under the Federal Employees Liability Act. Coverage is optional for local police officers and firefighters, as well as business owners. Coverage for household employees, farm workers and casual workers also is optional.
Worker's compensation insurance pays for reasonable medical care needed after a workplace accident at no cost to the affected employee. However, employers have the right to choose the providers who will care for the injuries. In emergency situations, employees can go to an emergency facility rather than wait to speak with a company representative.
Employees who seek care on their own must notify the employer of the injuries within 30 days of the incident. Notifying the employer after this period could result in a claim denial. If the employer or insurance company denies a claim, employees can appeal to the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board. The time employees have to collect medical benefits depends on their specific case, as Indiana doesn’t set time stipulations for medical benefits.
Disability and Death Benefits
Employees with temporary total disability or permanent total disability can get two-thirds of their average pre-injury wage. The difference between the two statuses is that a permanently disabled employee likely will never return to work. Such employees can collect up to 500 weeks of benefits.
Partially disabled employees can’t return to work at full capacity and might need to take on less demanding jobs and accept lower pay rates. These workers may receive two-thirds of the difference between their current and pre-injury wages. They can collect up to 300 weeks of benefits.
If an injured employee dies, her family can collect her disability benefits. Calculation of weekly payments is similar to that of permanent total disability compensation. Payments to a dependent spouse end if the spouse remarries. The spouse then is entitled to the smaller of 104 weeks of benefits or the remainder of the 500 weekly benefits. The family also gets an allowance of up to $7,500 for funeral expenses.
All payments are subject to the state’s maximum average weekly wages,. If the employer, insurer and employee agree, permanently disabled employees can collect a lump sum payment. The minimum payout for lump sum payments is $75,000.
Indiana workers may qualify for compensation if they lose a body part or use of a limb in a work accident. Employees must reach a point where further medical improvement isn't possible before payouts begin. For temporary impairment, payments are based on a permanent partial impairment rating. For permanent impairment, the employee can get the larger of 500 weeks of his average weekly wages or the permanent partial impairment payment.
If a dispute arises regarding a workers’ compensation claim, the employee, employer or insurance company can ask the Ombudsman Division of the Worker's Compensation Board for assistance in settling the dispute. The Board will hear evidence, and then make a conclusive and binding decision after its investigation. If any of the parties believe that the law doesn't support the Board’s decision, they can file an appeal to the court of appeals within 30 days of the Board’s decision.