Michigan law provides that an employee who is injured at work can collect workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation wage loss benefits provide 80% of the after-tax value of the employee's average weekly wages. Workers compensation will also pay for any reasonable and necessary medical expenses arising out of the work-related injury for as long as treatment is necessary, even if this is for the rest of the injured person's life.
Full and part time employees may be covered by workers compensation. In general, all employees are covered for on the job injuries. Some of the major exceptions to this coverage include:
- Employees of the federal government, such as postal workers (but such workers may be covered by the Federal Employment Compensation Act)
- Some agricultural workers
- Employees of companies who employee a very small number of people
- Independent contractors
Disputes very frequently arise over whether medical treatment is reasonable and necessary or over whether the injured person is an employee or an independent contractor. The outcomes of these disputes can have significant consequences for someone who is injured on the job. For example, if it is decided that a medical expense is not reasonable, the cost of its treatment will no longer be covered, which means the injured person will have to pay for the treatment out of their own pocket. If the injury is a serious one, this can cost many thousands of dollars over a person's lifetime.
To take another example, quite often, employers attempt to argue that the injured person is an employee to bring them within the scope of the workers compensation law. The reason the employer does this is because it can be cheaper for them to pay the wage loss benefits and medical expenses than to face a lawsuit for these and other damages like pain and suffering or punitive damages that workers compensation would not pay. There have even been instances in which an injured person's job title was "independent contractor" but the employer nonetheless argued that person was an "employee".
Because these and other disputes can cost the injured person thousands or even millions of dollars, someone who is injured on the job should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help that person avoid jeopardizing their benefits or avoid being classified as an employee when they are actually an independent contractor and vice versa.