Delaware Workers' Compensation
Workers' compensation or workman's compensation coverage is provided to Delaware employees who are injured while performing their normal job functions or who are disabled due to an occupational illness or disease. Workers' Compensation was created by the Delaware Legislature and includes benefits such as paid medical care, permanent disability payments, temporary disability payments and death benefits. Benefits should be paid voluntarily by the employer, but if the employer refuses payment, it may be necessary to contact the Office of Workers' Compensation for help or a Delaware workers' compensation lawyer.
Workman's compensation was created to give immediate medical relief, and in some cases wage loss compensation, to workers who suffer a work injury in the normal course of their employment. Workman's compensation does not require employees to file a personal injury claim and prove their employer's negligence contributed to their work injury to receive Delaware workman's comp. Although the employee may receive less compensation than they could have received if they had won a lawsuit, they will receive their Delaware workman's comp benefits immediately without an extended legal fight.
Delaware workers' compensation law requires all Delaware employers who have one or more employee to purchase and maintain workers' compensation insurance. The employee should not be charged any expense for this insurance. Exemptions may exist for farm workers and independent contractors. Certain workers may also be covered under federal workers' compensation laws including: seaman, maritime workers, railroad workers and federal employees (Delaware Code Title 19, Chapter 23, Sections 2307 and 2308). These workers can contact the appropriate federal workers' compensation office for help if they suffer from a work injury.
Common work injuries covered by workman's compensation in Delaware
Not all work-related injuries are covered under Delaware workers' compensation laws. Work injuries which are generally covered can include work injuries which arise "out of and in the course of employment". Common work injuries and occupational illnesses can include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
- Back injuries
- Amputations of legs, arms, fingers or toes
- Cancer from a certain chemical or toxin
- Heart attack
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Workers' compensation laws vary by state, but every state excludes certain work injuries from coverage. Generally, the following work injuries are not covered by Kansas workman's compensation insurance:
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Work injuries caused due to an employee's intoxication or illegal drug use
- Work injuries caused while the employee is committing a serious crime
- Work injuries caused while the employee is not on the job
- Work injuries caused by conduct that violated the company's policies
Delaware Workers' Compensation Benefits
Medical benefits and all necessary medical treatment must be provided by the employer or their insurance company for an employee's work-related injuries. In Delaware, which varies from many other states, the employee is able to choose their own treating physician (Pursuant to Title 19, Chapter 23, Section 23). This choice includes not only a treating physician but also a surgeon, dentist or any other type of medical provider. A new comprehensive Health Care Payment System for workers compensation medical treatment was instituted in 2008. Medical benefits can also include benefits to compensate the employee for prescribed medications, doctor's visits, hospitalizations and medical supplies.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD)
Temporary total disability benefits are paid to employees whose work injury extends beyond three days. Temporary total disability is paid starting with the 4th day of lost employment. Employees who miss a total of 7 days will have their first three days compensated. The temporary total disability payment amount is 66⅔ percent of gross weekly wages received at the time of the work injury. Maximum TTD payment amounts are established each year by the Secretary of Labor.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)
Temporary partial benefits may also be paid if the worker is able to return to work in some limited capacity and their rate of pay is less than it had been prior to their work injury. Temporary partial disability payments are paid at 2/3 the difference between their wage prior to the work injury and their current post-work injury wage. Temporary partial disability payments are paid for a maximum of 300 weeks.
Permanent Disability Benefits
Permanent impairment benefits are paid if a worker's illness or injury causes permanent loss of function for the worker. The benefits paid are based on a percentage of a certain non-scheduled or scheduled loss. Scheduled losses are those relating to the back, lungs or heart. Non-scheduled losses refer to loss of function in the arms, fingers, toes, feet, eyes, hands and ears.
Disfigurement benefits may be awarded if an employee suffers a work injury which causes a scar or permanent disfigurement of their body. The amount of compensation is based on the type and severity of the disfigurement and can be paid up to 150 weeks.
Death benefits may be paid to surviving dependents or spouses of employees who are killed on the job from a work injury or illness. Delaware workers' comp law allows death benefits to be paid to children who are dependents until they reach 18 years of age or 25 years of age for a full-time student. The amount of compensation paid is based on the number of dependents but can not exceed 80% of the amount set by the Secretary of Labor.
Death benefits may also include burial expenses up to $3,500.
Hiring a Delaware workers' compensation lawyer
Some injured workers who have suffered work injuries without permanent loss of bodily function may not need a workers' compensation lawyer. Workers who have severe work injuries, who have been denied workers' compensation, who disagree about the amount they are being paid or who have questions about their Kansas workers' comp claim may find it helpful to contact a Delaware workers' compensation attorney.
Some employers will be very helpful and will make sure that you get the help you need. Others may be less so. A workers' compensation attorney can make sure you get the compensation you are due for your work injury. Questions about Delaware workers' compensation laws can also be directed to the Delaware Workers' Compensation Office.