January 28, 2018
Suffering a work-related injury or illness can be life-altering, both physically and financially. The Nevada workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate employees for losses incurred due to the work-place injury or illness and get him or her back to work as quickly as is reasonably possible. That being said, workers’ compensation also limits the amount of money that may be received from an employer as a result of the claim. Moreover, if you or someone you know is considering filing a workers’ compensation claim in Nevada, it is important to understand the full breadth of benefits available to you which go beyond loss of income.
Nevada Workers’ Disability Benefits
There are two types of total disability benefits under Nevada’s workers’ compensation system: temporary and permanent.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to employees who need to take more than five days of work off due to their work-related injury or sickness. TTD benefits amount to two-thirds (⅔) of the individual’s average monthly wage up to a capped amount set by law every year, which is updated every July. TTD benefits are paid to an employee until he or she reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI) or, alternatively, until he or she is able to return to work.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid to employee who can work, but is earning much less than his or her usual pay due to the work-place injury or sickness. Unlike TD benefits, which are a percentage of the individual’s prior wages, TPD benefits amount to the difference between post-injury wages and the TTD rate. In other words, you still receive ⅔ of your average wage under TPD but this is paid in combination with the earnings you are receiving from actually working. Nevada places a time limit of 24 months on how long a person can receive TPD benefits.
Once your medical treatment has completed, your physician will evaluate you and determine if you are permanently and totally disabled (PTD). If you are found to be PTD, you will continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits at your temporary total disability rate for as long as you remain totally disabled. Generally injuries or illnesses that qualify for permanent and total disability are serious and include, but are not limited to, loss of vision in both eyes, loss of use of both arms or legs, brain damage, and paralysis.
If, on the other hand, your doctor determines you suffer from a permanent partial disability (PPD) you will be assigned an impairment rating. This impairment rating is a percentage of disability, based on a scale of one to 100 percent. For each percentage of impairment assigned by your physician, you will receive 0.6 percent of your average monthly wage as workers’ compensation benefits. The benefit calculation for PPD changes, however, for impairments that are more than 30 percent. PPD benefits being once TD benefits cease. PPD may continue for the later of five years, or when the worker reaches the age of 70.
Other Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Nevada Workers
Nevada’s workers’ compensation system provides benefits beyond loss of compensation for partial or total disability. These additional benefits include:
- Medical expenses – workers’ compensation covers all reasonable and necessary medical treatment that is related to a workplace injury or illness, as long as the treatment in question is authorized;
- Work rehabilitation – when a worker is unable to return to his or her prior employment due to a workplace injury or illness, he or she is eligible to receive placement service and other assistance in finding new employment;
- Death benefits – the surviving family members of a worker – such as the spouse, children, or other dependents – receiving workers’ compensation benefits are entitled to receive a death benefit when the employee passes due to a work injury;
- Mileage reimbursement – workers’ compensation also covers mileage for travel to and from doctors’ appointments as an additional benefit; and
- Funeral expenses – money to cover funeral and burial expenses of a deceased worker, up to a maximum of $10,000, may be received by the worker’s family members.
Negotiating Your Case for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
A workers’ compensation insurance company can offer to settle the claim. If this opportunity arises, there are several ways in which the award may be offered, two of which are listed below:
Permanent Partial Disability Award
When an employee’s treating physician releases the patient from further treatment and opines the injured worker is ratable on the Physician Progress Report (PRP), the workers’ compensation insurance company’s adjuster should schedule an appointment for the employee to undergo an impairment evaluation. The examination will be performed by an agreed-upon workers’ compensation rating doctor or, if the adjuster and the worker (or worker’s attorney) cannot agree to one, one will be assigned. The guidelines used to rate the disability are found in the AMA Guides to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. Should the insurance adjuster agree with the rating, an offer to settle the claim is made based on a combination of factors including the disability percentage rating, the average monthly wage of the injured worker, and the worker’s age.
An injured worker may accept the award in a lump sum – or one-time payment – or in installments. Of note, any offer based on a disability percentage of more than 25 percent must be paid in installments.
Vocational Rehabilitation One-time Buy Out
When an injured employee has work restrictions that are considered permanent, and the employer does not offer a permanent position to the employee, the workers’ compensation insurance company will assign a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the claim. During retraining, biweekly checks in equal amounts are paid until the retraining is completed. Alternatively, a lump-sum buyout is offered if the injured or sick worker does not want to participate in a retraining program. This offer may include the employee’s signing of an agreement forever ending his or her entitlement to vocational rehabilitation under the workers’ compensation claim.
When offering a vocational rehabilitation buyout, the insurance carrier is required to offer a minimum amount, which is calculated based on at least 40 percent of how much would have been paid in biweekly benefits if the worker chose to participate in vocational rehabilitation. Sometimes the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay more than this minimum amount.
Seek Workers’ Compensation Help from a Work Injury Lawyer in Nevada
If you or someone you know has suffered a work-related illness or injury, contact the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at Paul Padda Law. With years of experience helping Nevada workers seek the benefits to which they are entitled, we can help you take the first step toward filing a claim. Call today to schedule your initial case evaluation with one of the firm’s lawyers.