Nebraska workers in hazardous industries, such as construction, trucking and other dangerous work environments, might be concerned about their abilities to take care of their families if they were to suffer catastrophic, career-ending injuries. If this is something that causes you sleepless nights, you may not be aware that the workers' compensation insurance system may provide the remedy.
Along with the standard benefits that cover medical expenses, the insurance program will also provide financial assistance if your injury causes temporary disability that prevents you from returning to work immediately. A wage-replacement package typically makes up a portion of your average weekly wage, and it covers the time it takes for you to recover sufficiently to return to work.
What happens if your injury ends in an amputation?
This is naturally not a thought you would want to dwell on, but knowing your rights after such a catastrophic work injury may be comforting. Workers' compensation benefits typically cover some forms of rehabilitation when necessary.
Two types of rehabilitation
In the minds of most workers, rehabilitation may conjure up thoughts of physical therapy and other types of treatments that aim to overcome an injury and regain functionality. However, for those who could never regain functionality of amputated limbs, loss of eyesight, spinal cord damage, brain injuries and more, the insurance program facilitates vocational rehabilitation. This process involves the training of victims to equip them with new skills that will accommodate their physical restrictions and allow them to regain their earning capabilities -- although in different fields of employment.
While the requirements differ from state to state, victims of catastrophic workplace injuries in Nebraska can request to undergo vocational rehabilitation. A certified counselor in this type of treatment will provide the rehabilitation after skills analysis and testing to determine the most appropriate training for the injured employee's future.
Services to which you might be entitled
Along with vocational rehabilitation counseling and skills analysis, other assistance to establish a new career may include the following:
- Assistance with drafting a resume and applying for jobs
- Sharpening of interview techniques and skills
- Surveys of the labor market and help with job analyses and wage assessments
- Ergonomics evaluation to ensure suitability of a future workplace environment
- Ensuring reasonable accommodation with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
What are the employer's responsibilities?
While you participate in the vocational rehabilitation program and make satisfactory progress, your employer's insurer will be responsible for paying your wage-replacement benefits. In some cases, the company may also provide compensation for other expenses such as travel costs, room and board, childcare if applicable, and other living expenses during the program. The costs for the initial evaluation, the development of a training plan and its implementation will be the responsibility of the employer/insurer.
Knowing that you would be able to earn an income that will allow you to take care of your family may bring you peace of mind. However, if you are ever the victim of a catastrophic injury at work, you may find these benefits might not be as easy to obtain as it sounds. Your best option might be to consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can protect your rights and help ensure you receive vocational rehabilitation along with the financial benefits to which you are entitled.