HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO BE OFF WORK BEFORE I AM ENTITLED TO WORKERS’ COMP?
The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 2.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses suffered in the private American workforce in the year 2019; this figure includes everything that was reported to an employer, from a minor abrasion to quadriplegia–but not injuries employers failed to report. Employment frequently causes workers to suffer or aggravate orthopedic or neurological injuries and disabilities to their backs, necks, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees and legs. Still other workers suffer from disabling lung, heart or skin conditions caused by their jobs. The law also recognizes that actual events of employment which significantly cause, aggravate or contribute to disabling mental conditions are compensable.
Of this 2.8 million reported injuries and illnesses, only 888,000 of these required an employee to lose any time off from work. A far smaller number of workers found it necessary to take more than a week off from work. Here in Michigan, a worker is not entitled to any wage loss benefits until the disabled employee has been off work at least seven days. On the eighth day off work, the employee is entitled to begin receiving workers’ compensation for the second week off work. If the disabled employee continues to stay off work until the fifteenth day, the worker is retroactively entitled to benefits for the first week off work. Workers who are off work for shorter periods of time have no remedy aside from any available sick pay or paid personal/vacation days provided by their employer.
Although in many states, an employer must pay benefits if a worker suffers a permanent partial disability that in any way limits a person’s physical abilities or wage-earning capacity, here in Michigan, if you are able to return to work at the same pay rate there is usually (but not always) no restitution for your injuries. We have in Michigan what is recognized as a “wage loss” statute. If your injury or disability does not prevent you from returning to your work, you are not entitled to disability wage loss benefits. An important exception is if you sustained a specific loss that resulted in an amputation or the loss of use of a limb.