The DBA provides two primary benefits, similar to state workers’ compensation.
First,the DBA provides medical benefits to injured workers. Employers are responsible for providing all medically necessary medical benefits, such as chiropractors, family physicians, orthopaedists, neurologists and physical therapists. Psychiatric treatment is also covered.
Once a claim is timely filed, there is no statute of limitations barring future medical benefits. This is true even if treatment is sporadic and continues for several years. Sometimes, it is necessary for a doctor to state that such ongoing care is causally related to the original work injury.
Second, the DBA provides indemnity, also known as compensation benefits, while the Claimant is recovering from injuries. Benefits are categorized as temporary or permanent. There are wage-replacement payments, while the worker is unable to work:
- Temporary compensation payments are payable until the injured workers reaches a treatment plateau. This treatment plateau is also called maximum medical improvement, or MMI. After an injured worker reaches MMI, he still is entitled to medical treatment, but his compensation benefits are reclassified from temporary to permanent.
- Permanent compensation benefits provide ongoing payments for those who have sustained a permanent loss of wage earning capacity as a result of their injuries. Alternatively, depending upon the type of injury, permanent benefits are sometimes paid from a formula, based upon the loss of use of the body part.
The right to compensation benefits are usually time barred if the injured worker has not filed a claim for additional payments within one year of the last payment.
Compensation benefits are only payable if your disability is substantiated by a medical provider. An attorney can assist you in gathering doctor’s records to establish the right to receive compensation payments.
Usually, compensation benefits are paid at 2/3 of the injured worker’s pre-injury wages, exclusive of fringe benefits, health insurance, etc., and subject to a maximum compensation rate.
In addition to medical and indemnity benefits, injured workers are often offered vocational rehabilitation from the Department of Labor. This is provided free of charge by the DOL, if the DOL determines that such services will be helpful to the injured worker. Such rehabilitation enables individuals to reenter the workforce, after their work-related injuries prevent them from returning to their previous employment. For example, vocational services may help a worker injured in Afghanistan as a carpenter, retrain to become a project manager or draftsman.