Though the point of overtime hours is to better compensate workers who spend more time working than their contract requires them to, many Indiana residents rely on at least a few of these time-and-a-half hours to make ends meet.
But when these workers are injured and forced to take time off, what happens to their overtime hours? And what does their doctor’s restriction for “light duty work” mean when they return to work?
Overtime, Restrictions, and Workers’ Compensation
Indiana workers’ compensation laws require employers and their insurance companies to consider an injured employee’s total entitled pay when cutting checks during their time off. The specifics unfortunately, stop there, which means to learn more, we look at how other specific claims were handled for precedents.
Seeking Overtime Compensation
Courts across America have generally recognized when hourly workers are “used to” working overtime and therefore consider their overtime hours in their workers’ compensation claim. This is typically true even if the employer never requires them to work overtime; as long as their schedules indicate regular over-40-hour work weeks, workers’ compensation boards can rule in the worker’s favor.
If you’ve been injured and your workers’ compensation check doesn’t include the regular overtime hours you worked, you may benefit from hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to argue for your rights.
Returning to Light Duty Work
Once an injured worker has had time to recover, heal, and return to work, they may face new obstacles in returning to their exact same job duties. Doctors will sometimes restrict their patients from performing strenuous or dangerous tasks either temporarily or permanently.
Understandably, employers must shift the expectations and job descriptions of these workers accordingly, but this doesn’t allow them to prevent the employee from taking overtime work if they are capable of performing it.
This precedent was originally set in a well-known case against United Airlines. The jury found that as long as other workers are being offered overtime hours and the work involved is within their physical restrictions, disabled workers are entitled to work overtime if they desire.
How Much Will My Workers’ Compensation Claim Pay?
Though it’s important to know how your prior schedule and job duties affect your workers’ compensation check, you can also estimate how much each check will be worth, depending on your situation.
When evaluating your claim, the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board calculates your average weekly wage (AWW) and writes you a check every week. The amount depends on whether your injury is a permanent partial impairment (PPI) or total temporary disability (TTD).
Total Temporary Disability Compensation
For injured workers whose condition is treatable and who will return to work in full capacity in the future, their compensation is 2/3 the amount of their AWW. For example, if you were making $600 each week (on average), your workers’ compensation check will be $400.
Remember, if you’re used to working overtime hours or receiving tips or commissions, these wages must be included in the calculation for AWW. If your employer refuses to count these earnings, you may want to seek legal action through a workers’ compensation attorney.
If your injury results in permanent total disability, you may be awarded 2/3 of your AWW for up to 500 weeks of pay, sometimes awarded at once in a lump sum payment.
The calculation for permanent partial injuries is a little more complicated, as it involves degrees of impairment depending on the body part affected by the workplace injury. Because the pay schedule, amount, and limits for PPI payments can vary, we suggest talking to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney for further guidance.
Help from an Indiana Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When you rely on overtime to support yourself or your family, being injured and out of work can put you in a tight spot. Though Indiana law protects people in this situation, employers and their insurance agents often seek to minimize their costs before serving their employees.
If this has happened to you, give us a call. Hensley Legal Group’s workers’ compensation attorneys will represent you to get the wages from workers’ compensation you deserve. Contact us today to start a free conversation about your case.