Work-related injuries in Louisiana can take place on land or on or adjacent to navigable waters. Depending upon where the accident takes place, the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act may come into play.
The Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act covers land-based work-related accidents. The act provides four types of income benefits for work-related accident victims:
- Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTD)
- Supplemental Earnings Benefits (SEB)
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits (PTD)
If an injured worker is temporarily totally disabled, the act provides for benefits up to two-thirds of the worker's gross earnings at the time the disability began, including taxable fringe benefits. Benefits should continue until the worker receives a medical release to return to work.
If a worker can return to work, but the injury prevents him or her from earning at least 90% of the income earned at the time of the accident, the worker should receive supplemental earnings benefits (SEB). The appropriate SEB amount is two-thirds of the difference between what the worker was earning at the time of the injury and what the worker is currently able to earn.
The worker may receive permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, which is a guaranteed minimum income benefit under the act for specific injuries, including vision loss and damage to extremities such as losing a hand or a finger.
An injured worker may receive permanent total disability (PTD) benefits if it is determined that he will not be able to perform any type of work permanently.
In some instances, the workers' compensation insurance company may be willing to settle a case for a single lump-sum payment for future wage benefits and future medical expenses and permanent disability.
In addition to the above wage benefits, victims of work-related accidents are entitled to receive medical treatment from a physician of their choosing for the work-related injuries, as well as prescription medication, physical therapy and travel expenses for treatment.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides work-related injury benefits to maritime workers under certain circumstances where the state workers' compensation does not apply. Under this act, workers injured while employed in the maritime industry such as shipbuilders, dock workers, longshoremen, mechanics, or maintenance workers on a navigable waterway or adjoining areas, including areas that are used in loading, unloading, repairing or building vessels, including docks, piers and dry dock facilities, are entitled to compensation.
A worker covered by this act is entitled to medical benefits and wage benefits equal to two-thirds of the injured worker's average weekly wage while undergoing medical treatment, then either a scheduled award for injury to certain body parts or two-thirds of the worker's future lost earning capacity.
Compensation benefits, whether under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Act or the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, are owed to the injured employee by the employer or his insurer, regardless of fault. However, under many circumstances, the accident may have been caused by the fault of a party other than the employer. If that is the case, the injured worker is entitled to workers' compensation benefit from the employer, but is also entitled to bring a "third-party" lawsuit against the party who is actually at fault. The third-party claim is not limited to workers' compensation benefits, but instead includes elements of damages such as mental and physical pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that cannot be recovered against the employer under workers' compensation laws.
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If you have suffered a work-related injury, we are happy to speak with you about it to help you determine your rights. Please feel free to contact us online or at the numbers listed below.