Why Doesn’t My Job Offer Workers’ Comp?

by Dudley DeBosier | April 12th, 2021

Just about every employer in Louisiana is required to provide workers’ compensation to their employees, and nearly every worker is covered, regardless of fault, when they are injured at work or while performing work duties.

Unfortunately, “just about every” employer isn’t every employer, and “nearly every” worker isn’t every worker. If you are injured at work and expect to be able to get your medical bills and lost wages covered by your employer, it can be a shock to discover you are among the tiny group excluded from these benefits. And in some cases, you may be wrongfully excluded.

Who Is Excluded from Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

For the most part, all public and private employers in Louisiana are legally required to purchase workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, whether those employees are full-time, part-time, or seasonal, and regardless of how many or how few employees they have—even if there is only a single employee.

However, the state does have a few limited exceptions, which include:

  • People employed directly by a private homeowner (such as a nanny or groundskeeper)
  • Some musicians and performers
  • Railroad employees, when engaging in interstate or foreign commerce
  • Crews of crop dusters and planes engaging in other spraying operations 
  • Unpaid board members of non-profits
  • Real estate brokers
  • Landmen
  • Employees already protected by other federal labor laws, such as the Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

I’m Not in an Excluded Category, But My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation

If your employer is supposed to provide workers’ compensation benefits, but doesn’t, they could face serious penalties.

Louisiana employers who fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance can be fined up to $250 per employee for a first offense, and up to $500 per employee for additional offenses. They could also be hit with criminal charges and could even be prevented from conducting any further business until they purchase workers’ compensation and provide proof to a court that they did so.

My Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance But Says I’m Not Eligible

As independent contractors are not considered employees, sometimes employers purposefully misclassify their employees as independent contractors on paper to avoid having to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Even if your employer classifies you as an independent contractor, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation, especially if you are performing work that includes manual labor.

Employers who do so could have civil and criminal charges and could even face jail time.

Are you unsure whether you should be classified as an employee or contractor? Generally, whoever dictates the terms of the work is the “employer.” If the business determines when the work is done, how the work is done, how the worker is paid, and provides the tools and supplies, it is very likely the worker is an employee and not a contractor. But if the worker brings their own tools, determines their own hours, and so on, then it’s more likely they are a “self-employed” contractor. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

What Do I Do If I’m Hurt and My Job Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Workers’ compensation is designed to protect both workers and employers, because as long as an employer offers workers’ compensation, they can’t be sued by their employees, and those employees can only get compensation through workers’ compensation. However, when an employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation, they can be sued by workers through a typical personal injury lawsuit.  

Need Help After a Work Injury? Our Louisiana Workers’ Comp Attorneys Can Help

Over the years, we’ve seen all kinds of situations arising from workplace injuries, from employers who misclassified employees to employers who tried to blame workers for their own injuries and refused to pay.

Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for our clients, we didn’t let them get away with it. And we want to do the same for you. When you’re suffering from a workplace injury and need compensation, call our firm. Best of all, your case review is always free.

Workers’ Comp: Finding a Doctor You Can Trust

by Dudley DeBosier | March 20th, 2020

All doctors have a responsibility to be honest and treat their patients to their best ability, and some are better than others. However, your company incentivizes you to pick company-provided doctors who are less likely to address the severity of your condition and look out for your best interest.

It can be tempting to choose a company doctor, but keep in mind how vitally important your initial doctor is. In order to receive compensation at all, you’ll need an initial medical diagnosis. After your treating doctor diagnoses your condition, they direct all of your medical care (whether you need physical therapy or medications, for example), refer you to other specialists, decide your work restrictions, determine your level of permanent disability, and provide evidence for your case. All their decisions directly affect your recovery and benefits.

The rules for choosing your treating doctor vary from state to state, but under Louisiana workers’ compensation law, you’re entitled to choose your own physician: one per field or specialty.

However, no matter whether you take a company doctor or your own, you’re also required to have an examination by a physician whom the employer and workers’ comp insurance company provide and pay for. This examination is called a Second Medical Opinion (SMO) — and if you refuse it, your lost wage payments may be suspended temporarily. It’s important to note the SMO doctor does not treat you; it’s a one-time, short evaluation to give insurance companies a potential basis for denying benefits.

That’s why choosing your initial treating doctor is so important. Make sure you consider their level of experience and skill, area of specialization, and familiarity with your type of injury. You may want to ask about their understanding of workers’ comp claims; it may indicate their willingness to advocate on your behalf and accept your workers’ comp medical fee schedule. Their availability for appointments and proximity from your home are also fair considerations when choosing your treating doctor.

If you’re in pain and need legal help to navigate this complicated journey, don’t feel pressured to continue alone. Dudley DeBosier’s team of legal experts have helped many people like you get through this difficult time, and with our No Fee Guarantee, you’ll never pay us unless we get you money.

What’s the Difference Between Workers’ Comp and Social Security Disability?

by Dudley DeBosier | February 17th, 2020

If you recently suffered an injury or illness that put you out of work, you need a way to replace your lost paychecks. For many people, workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability (SSD) are the two solutions that come to mind, but they may not know which one is right for them or the differences between the two programs.

Both programs are designed to meet the same need: providing income for people who can’t work due to health problems, illnesses, or disability. But that’s where the similarities end. There are significant differences between the two, and having an advocate on your side who understands those differences and which one is right for you is essential.

At Dudley DeBosier, our Louisiana workers’ comp and SSD lawyers handle both types of claims, and that means we know the intricacies of initial applications and appeals when claims are denied. Don’t go it alone when it comes to getting compensation that your family needs during this difficult time. Get our legal team on your side, and let us work hard on your behalf.

Workers’ Comp vs SSD: How Do You Know Which is Right for You?

You’ve probably met people who have received either workers’ compensation or SSD benefits. You may even know people who have received both, whether at different times or the same time. Learning which one you need or are eligible for requires an understanding of both programs.

To get a crash course on the differences between workers’ comp and SSD benefits, check out the infographic below.

There are other differences between these two income-replacement programs, and our legal team is ready to help you understand those differences. Don’t proceed without an experienced legal advocate on your side, as you may risk pursuing the wrong type of benefits or losing out on money you deserve.

We’ll Help You Avoid Common Workers’ Comp and SSD Pitfalls

Although there are many differences between workers’ comp benefits and SSD benefits, they share one thing: how difficult they are to get.

Both the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Board and the Social Security Administration are notoriously difficult and strict when it comes to approving both initial applications and appeals. The wait times can also be long, which can mean months or years without the money you need. You don’t have time to wait for a long, drawn-out process, and you shouldn’t have to deal with rejections over minor details or oversights.

Our lawyers know the ins-and-outs of both systems, and we’ll work hard to make sure your claim or appeal is accurate, complete, and filed on time. When you contact us, it’s our goal to get you as much money as possible, as quickly as possible—all while answering your questions and addressing your concerns. That’s the Dudley DeBosier Difference. Contact us today for a free consultation.

What to Expect: Workers’ Compensation Claims

by Dudley DeBosier | June 19th, 2019

If you are injured on the job or become ill due to conditions at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Most employers are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their employees to help cover the costs of medical treatment, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and lost wages due to a work-related injury. Firing an employee for filing a claim or otherwise discouraging an employee from filing a claim is illegal.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim is not the same as suing your employer. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, you are not required to prove negligence, only that your injury was acquired on the job. If you become injured on the job, you must inform your employer and your employer’s insurer of your injury in a timely manner. Once a claim has been accepted you have three additional years in which to assert a claim for additional medical benefits, or one year if you do not.

Be prepared to explain how the injury occurred, provide the date and time of day of the injury, and the names of any witnesses. In non-emergency situations, you may be required to submit to an evaluation for the injury from a doctor of your employer’s choice.

What We Can Do to Help

Most workers’ compensation claims are denied because the employer is put on notice of the injury too late or without sufficient information, but hiring an attorney to help with your workers’ compensation claim can help you maximize your chances of approval. When you work with the Louisiana workers’ compensation attorneys at Dudley DeBosier, we’ll do everything we can to ensure your claim is approved. This includes completing all necessary paperwork, meeting all deadlines, compiling evidence to support your claim, and calculating your lost wage claim and level of disability.

Your employer may try to dispute your version of events or claim your injury was due to a pre-existing condition. If you choose us to handle your claim, we’ll do everything we can to protect your rights. If your claim is denied, our attorneys can work to resolve your case through mediation or bring it before a workers’ compensation judge in an official court hearing.

After an On-the-Job Injury, Call Dudley DeBosier!

If you or someone you love was injured or became disabled while on the job, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Dudley DeBosier are ready to help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review.

Disputing a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Claim

by Dudley DeBosier | February 28th, 2019

Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage to their employees in the event of a work-related injury or illness. Unfortunately, for many Louisianians injured on the job, it’s not as simple as filing a claim and getting compensation to help pay medical bills and support their families. Valid workers’ compensation claims are often denied, leaving hard-working people like you wondering how they will pay their bills.

If you or a loved one suffered a work-related injury or illness and your workers’ compensation claim was denied, don’t give up—you have the right to appeal the denial. Read below to learn more about the three possible steps you may take to appeal your Louisiana workers’ comp claim denial.

Voluntary Mediation in a Louisiana Workers’ Comp Claim

Mediation is a process where an attorney works with both parties to agree on a solution. When it comes to workers’ compensation appeals in Louisiana, both parties must agree to take this step. This explains why the process is referred to as voluntary mediation.

The voluntary mediation process is informal and takes place outside of a courtroom. If no resolution is reached, you still have options.

Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Appeal Hearing

If your employer does not agree to mediation, or if you failed to reach a resolution, you still may be able to get the benefits you deserve. After filling out the proper state paperwork, you will be granted a workers’ compensation court hearing. Like voluntary mediation, this step allows both sides to tell their story. However, a hearing is presided over by a judge rather than an attorney, and takes place in a courtroom setting.

After both sides state their case, the judge will decide the case and issue a decision within 30 days.

Appealing a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Claim in Federal Court

If your benefits are denied at the hearing level, you can appeal that denial, too. However, unlike previous steps that involve the State of Louisiana, further appeals are decided at the federal level by the Circuit Appellate Court.

Dudley DeBosier Wants to Help You Get Your Benefits

Getting the Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits you deserve isn’t always a straightforward process. From ensuring you fill out claims paperwork accurately and completely to dealing with your employer and their insurance company, Dudley DeBosier is here to answer your questions and fight for your benefits.

We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and we don’t charge for our services unless you get money for your claim—that’s our No Fee Guarantee®. Call or contact us online to get started now.

3 Reasons Workers’ Compensation Claims Get Denied

by Dudley DeBosier | February 1st, 2019

4 Ways to Protect Yourself After a Work Injury

by Dudley DeBosier | June 18th, 2018

You count on your paychecks to support yourself and your family. But when a work-related illness or injury keeps you out of work for weeks, months, or even years, finding a way to pay your medical bills while still providing for your family can feel stressful and defeating. Fortunately, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to help cover medical treatment and lost wages.

If you get hurt while working or suspect your medical condition may be caused by your work conditions, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Dudley DeBosier want to help. It’s our goal to help you get all of the benefits you’re owed.

Here are 4 steps you can take after you’re injured at work to increase your chances of filing a successful workers’ compensation claim:

Report the injury to your employer.

As soon as you’re able, report the accident and injury to your supervisor. Be specific when describing the incident and include details like when and where it occurred, the names of any witnesses, and the events leading up to the accident. Take photos of the scene if you can. Once you report this information to your employer, you can fill out an incident report to document the injury.

Get medical attention.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible after your injury occurs. Not only will this protect your health, it can also help protect your rights to compensation. Seeing a doctor shortly after the incident creates a record of the date and helps to solidify that the injury is work-related. Tell the doctor about your injury, how it happened, and if you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions.

File a claim with your employer’s insurance company.

After you see a doctor, you’ll have a better understanding of your medical expenses and your potential recovery period. Keep this in mind when filing for workers’ compensation benefits. The insurance company is looking to pay you as little money as possible, and they may deny your claim or offer you far less than you deserve for the severity of your injury.

Contact an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney.

If you’ve been denied the benefits you need to support yourself and your family after your workplace injury, contact a lawyer. In some cases, getting approved for workers’ compensation is as simple as filling out an application completely, accurately, and on time. But if you’ve submitted an accurate claim and still don’t receive fair compensation, an attorney may be able to fight for your benefits—even if that means going to trial.

Many circumstances can lead to an on-the-job injury, such as hazardous conditions, poor training, or defective materials. If you suffered a workplace injury or work-related illness, the Louisiana workers’ compensation attorneys at Dudley DeBosier are here for you. Our legal team has pursued compensation on behalf of hundreds of injury victims, and we want to help you, too. Contact us for a free consultation today.

Can I Be Fired For Making a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

by Trey Dominique | June 23rd, 2016

An injured employee cannot be fired for simply bringing a workers’ compensation claim against his employer. While Louisiana is an “at-will” work state, the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act specifically bars employers from terminating an employee who makes a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

The specific statute, Louisiana Revised Statue 23:1361, is meant “to prevent unjust dismissals and to allow employees to exercise their right to workers’ compensation benefits without fear of retaliatory action by their employers.”[1]

An employee who has been terminated for making a claim may be entitled to civil penalties. The penalty is the amount the person would have earned if he had not been wrongfully terminated. When bringing this type of claim, the Court must decide the actual reason for the termination of employment. The injured employee is required to show, by direct record evidence or by a preponderance of the evidence that the termination of employment was due to the injured employee’s assertion of a claim for benefits.

If you have ever been injured in the workplace and feel that you have been wrongfully terminated, we highly recommend that you speak to an attorney. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (866) 897-8495 or fill out a free initial consultation form.

[1] Hooker v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 38,350 (La. App. 2d Cir., 2004), 870 So. 2d 1131.

5 Myths about Workers’ Compensation

by Scott Sonnier | October 30th, 2015

Debunking common Workers’ Compensation misconceptions:

1. I can be compensated for pain and suffering for a work injury.

Workers’ compensation does not allow for any award for pain and suffering. However, you can be compensated for a permanent partial impairment to many body parts and you may be compensated for any disfiguring scars or the loss of teeth.

2. My employer will have to authorize any treatment that my doctor requests.

Care for injured workers is now governed by Medical Treatment Guidelines that have been promulgated by the State. The process for requesting treatment and appealing any denials of treatment is complex and time sensitive. An attorney can help you through this process.

3. My employer has to hold a job for me after I have been injured.

Your employer is not required to hold your job or to let you return to work with them after your accident by the workers’ compensation laws. Your employer may be required to do so by other laws, such as FMLA, for a period of time. Your employer is prohibited from terminating your employment because you had a work accident.

4. My employer will have to retrain me to do another job if I am unable to return to my prior job after a work accident.

Your employer may identify other jobs that you may be physically capable of performing after your accident, but your employer is not obligated to retrain you to get another job.

5. If I’m hurt at work, my employer will have to pay me workers’ compensation for the rest of my life.

Most injured workers are limited to 520 weeks (ten years) of workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages. It is possible that for a very serious injury you can receive benefits for longer than 520 weeks in some circumstances.

Workers’ Compensation: 8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know

by Alyssa Perot-Heltz | August 31st, 2015

After suffering an injury on the job, the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim and understanding what your rights are can be overwhelming.

Here are a few things you should know about the process and your rights:

  1. The insurance carrier that your employer has it’s policy of workers’ compensation coverage through must deem your claim as “compensable” before benefits will be initiated. If your claim is deemed not compensable, you are entitled to a hearing in front of a workers’ compensation judge.
  2. If your doctor gives you restrictions for returning to work such as sedentary, light, or medium duty and your job cannot accommodate the restriction, you will be entitled to 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage.
  3. If your doctor thinks you are too injured to work at all, you will be paid 66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage. This number has a cap that changes every year.
  4. If your employer does accommodate the restriction but pays you a rate lower than what you were earning pre-injury, you will be entitled to Supplemental Earning Benefits. These benefits are the difference between what your modified job duty pays and 90% of your pre-accident weekly wage. These benefits also have a cap.
  5. The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act gives you the right to choose your own doctor.
  6. In Louisiana, injured workers are entitled to be reimbursed for mileage for trips to doctors appointments, physical therapy appointments, pharmacy visits, and vocational rehabilitation meetings. Reimbursement is currently .51 cents per mile.
  7. You are not allowed to receive workers’ compensation benefits and unemployment benefits at the same time. There is a week for week forfeiture of workers’ compensation benefits when you receive unemployment benefits.
  8. Independent contractors may be entitled to workers’ compensation in some circumstances. For instance, an employee with a job that is categorized as manual labor will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It is important to check with a lawyer to determine if you’re an independent contractor or a regular employee, no matter how your employer classifies your status.

    Contact us today to request your free case evaluation.