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6 common questions about Louisiana workers' compensation

Workers who are seriously injured at work likely have a long road to recovery ahead of them. Making ends meet during this time, and getting the medical care they need, can be very difficult without having their normal income. These workers often rely on workers' compensation coverage to handle these aspects of life. That brings up some very important questions about workers' compensation in Louisiana.

What employers have to carry coverage?

With very few exceptions, all employers who have at least one employee must carry workers' compensation coverage. This includes employers who have only one seasonal, temporary, full-time or part-time employee. Some employers are not required to have coverage if the person or persons they employ meet certain criteria. For example, coverage isn't necessary for some private residence employees, railroad workers, musicians and performers.

Is coverage required for independent contractors?

Independent contractors who meet the state's true definition of the term aren't required to have coverage. Employers have a duty to ensure that the worker is truly an independent contractor because misclassifying employees can lead to serious problems if an injury does occur.

What happens if an employer doesn't have coverage?

Employers who don't have workers' compensation coverage can face fines for failing to comply with the laws. These fines start at $250 per employee on the first offense. In addition to the fines, the employer could face legal action through a lawsuit if a worker gets injured and decides to seek compensation.

What does workers' compensation cover?

Workers' compensation covers partial wage replacement, medical bills, pharmaceutical coverage and some rehabilitation programs. The exact coverage that an employee is given depends upon the circumstances of the employee's case. For example, medical bills could be covered in a case without there being any wage replacement if the worker doesn't actually have to miss any work or doesn't miss enough to meet requirements for a claim.

What must employees do to obtain benefits?

Employees have to report the accident and injury to their employer. They then have one year to make the workers' compensation claim. Injured workers who don't do this could face difficulty in getting the coverage they need. Workers should also make sure that they cooperate with the claims process as required by law.

How is wage replacement coverage calculated?

Wage replacement is a big component of many workers' compensation claims. In order to determine what the wage replacement will be, your average weekly wage for the past four weeks is determined. You get 66 percent of that wage for your weekly wage replacement amount. If you were laid off, on vacation, forced to cut your hours or had other extenuating circumstances during the four-week averaging period, the data might have to be adjusted to reflect more accurate information.

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