An injury at work can cause a lot of complications: unexpected medical bills, the need to take time off work, even a permanent inability to do your job. If you have suffered a work-related injury, you should know that you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. That compensation is often paid by workers’ compensation insurance.

What is workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation is financial support paid to a worker following a work-related injury. Unlike some other types of insurance, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so you do not need to prove that your employer was at fault for your injury in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, only that you were injured during the course and scope of your work.

Workers’ compensation is almost entirely regulated at the state level, and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation recommends that employers purchase a workers’ compensation policy under the workers’ compensation laws in this state. Employers who do not have a workers’ compensation insurance plan leave themselves vulnerable to expensive lawsuits if an employee is injured on the job.

What does workers’ compensation cover?

Workers’ compensation provides you with a number of benefits if you experience a work-related injury. Here are the benefits that you are entitled to receive as part of workers’ compensation:

Medical and pharmaceutical expenses

Workers’ compensation benefits cover all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your injury. You should receive medical attention for your injury as soon as possible and notify your employer of what medical practitioner you have seen. Be sure to follow the medical practitioner’s advice, because failure to do so could result in denial of your claim for benefits.

Replacement income

You can begin receiving replacement income soon after your injury. The amount that you receive, and how much you receive, depends on the degree to which your injury affects your ability to work.  For instance, if you qualify for temporary total disability benefits, you can begin receiving a weekly benefit after missing seven consecutive days of work. The benefit will be equal to 62.67% of your wages, and there is a maximum amount that you are eligible to receive for temporary total disability under South Dakota law. If you are able to return to work but cannot work as many hours as you did previously, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits based on the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages.

Workers’ compensation also provides benefits for permanent disability. In the case of permanent partial disability, state law determines the amount that you receive, depending on what part of your body is affected and the percentage of impairment to that part of your body. If you are considered to have a permanent total disability, you will receive your benefits for the rest of your life.

Retraining costs

If you cannot return to your previous job due to your work-related injury, you may be entitled to retraining compensation to enable you to gain a new skill and re-enter the workforce. You will need to meet certain criteria to receive this benefit, including inability to return to your previous type of work and a need for rehabilitation in order to again obtain gainful employment. Rehabilitation and retraining benefits are not automatic, so you will need to file a specific claim requesting them from your employer.

Survivor benefits

In the unfortunate situation that a work-related injury leads to death, your dependents can receive workers’ compensation benefits in the form of survivor benefits. Under workers’ compensation laws in South Dakota, your spouse would receive an amount equivalent to two-thirds of your weekly wages. If you were only survived by your children, they would be entitled to the same benefit until they reached 18 years of age (or 22 years of age in the case of a full-time student). Survivor benefits also extend to funeral expenses to allow family and friends time to grieve without worrying about money.

What’s not covered

While worker’s compensation will cover medical treatment and pain management from a work injury, workers’ compensation will not pay you for ‘pain and suffering’ associated with your injury. Also, if you receive workers’ compensation benefits, you may not sue your employer to recover further damages for your injury.

Will my workers’ compensation benefits be taxed?

Workers’ compensation benefits are considered income, but in most cases they are not taxable. Although the wage replacement benefits you receive will not match what you were earning before you were injured, this tax-free benefit is something to keep in mind. If you are also receiving Social Security disability insurance or supplemental security income, though, your workers’ compensation benefits may be subject to taxation. If you have questions about the taxability of your benefits, consult a workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you are not paying more taxes than what you owe.

For more information

Workers’ compensation is there to provide you with assistance if you are injured on the job, but it can be a complex system to navigate. If you have questions about a work-related injury, or if you believe you are not receiving the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve, the experienced South Dakota workers’ compensation lawyers at Turbak Law are here to help. For more information, contact Turbak Law Office today at (866) 231-0914.