Workers’ compensation is an employee benefit established in 1912 by the Michigan Legislature. The system is used to provide wage replacement, medical, and rehabilitation benefits to workers who suffer a work-related injury. The State of Michigan does not ordinarily pay workers’ compensation benefits. Most employers in Michigan purchase an insurance policy from a private insurance company or they are authorized to be self-insured.
Michigan Workers Disability Compensation Act
Act 317 of 1969
The ACT was created to revise and consolidate the laws relating to worker’s disability compensation; to increase the administrative efficiency of the adjudicative processes; to improve the qualifications of the persons having adjudicative functions within the worker’s compensation system; to prescribe certain powers and duties; to create the board of worker’s compensation magistrates and the worker’s compensation appellate commission; to create certain other boards; to provide certain procedures for the resolution of claims, including mediation and arbitration; to prescribe certain benefits for persons suffering a personal injury under the act; to prescribe certain limitations on obtaining benefits under the act; to create, and provide for the transfer of, certain funds; to prescribe certain fees; to prescribe certain remedies and penalties; to repeal certain parts of this act on specific dates; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts.
Your Rights Under the Act
You are entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care for work related injuries or diseases. This includes medical, surgical, nursing and hospital services, and, under certain conditions, dental care, crutches, and such artificial appliances as limbs, eyes, teeth, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
Employers or their insurance carriers are required by law to provide these services. During the first 28 days of treatment your employer has the right to choose the physician. After 28 days you are free to change physicians, but you must notify your employer of the change.
Compensation for Wage Loss
You are entitled to weekly compensation benefits, which may be claimed as long as a disability and wage loss continue.
Prompt payment of benefits is required by law. The first payment is due on the 14th day after your employer has notice or knowledge of a disability or death, and all compensation accrued should be paid weekly.
Coordination of Benefits
If you are eligible for or are receiving old-age social security benefits, pension or retirement benefits, or benefits under a wage continuation plan, self-insurance plan or disability insurance policy paid for by your employer, there will be an offset or coordination of benefits. This does not apply to specific losses such as fingers, eyes, arms, and legs, nor does it apply to social security disability insurance benefits.
If you are unable to perform the work that you have done previously, you are entitled to vocation rehabilitation with the number one goal being a return to your previous employer. If you cannot do this or require assistance in finding a new job, vocation rehabilitation services are available.
If you disagree with any decision of your employer or their insurance carrier, you may file an application for hearing, which we can help you with.
Can a worker sue for damages other than workers’ compensation?
An individual injured at work can only receive workers’ compensation benefits and cannot sue for other damages. This is provided for in Section 131 of the Act. There are a few exceptions to this rule.
When can a worker sue his or her own employer?
Section 131(1) provides that an “intentional tort” is an exception. This means that if an employer deliberately takes an action that is specifically intended to injure a worker, the worker can sue the employer.
Suits based on contract or other statutes
There are other laws that give workers a right to sue their employers. These include Civil Rights statutes, labor laws, and other similar Acts. The workers’ compensation law does not deprive a worker of the right to sue under those circumstances. Workers may also have a right to sue their employer if there was a contract between them, which the employer breached.
Generally under these circumstances the worker is not suing as a result of a “personal injury or occupational disease.” It is lawsuits based on an injury or a disease that the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act prohibits.
Section 641(2) of the Act provides that if an employer is covered by the Act but fails to provide security for workers’ compensation, a worker who is injured on the job may sue that employer for civil damages.
Section 301(11) of the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act provides that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee because the employee exercised his or her rights under the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act.
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