Where is My Workers Comp Check?

At Hewins Law Firm, one of the questions we frequently get from not only current clients, but prospective clients, is “where’s my workers comp check?”  If you have ever been involved in an Indiana worker’s comp case and you have been forced to miss work, then you probably already know that the worker’s compensation insurance company is supposed to pay weekly checks to you to compensate for time off work.  This is called temporary total disability (TTD).  Although those checks should be issued on a weekly basis, frequently, our clients frequently call us about late – or even missing – worker’s comp checks.  For Indiana workers, there can be a number of reasons why the worker’s comp check is late or missing. 

Your workers comp check may be missing because your doctor has released you or you returned to work.

In Indiana, every injured employee whose doctor either orders them off work completely or imposes work restrictions that the employer cannot accommodate, is entitled to weekly wage replacement payments called temporary total disability (TTD).  Under Indiana worker’s compensation law, which is administered by the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board, these TTD checks are generally owed by the employer’s worker’s comp company until the employee returns to work or the doctor releases the employee at maximum medical improvement.  There are a number of other reasons why TTD may be stopped, so if you know your checks have been stopped and you haven’t returned to work or been released by your doctor, call Charles Hewins at Hewins Law Firm to find out other reasons why your worker’s comp check hasn’t arrived on time.

If your doctor has released you to full duty work, or released you altogether, your right to worker’s comp payments in the form of TTD generally ends at that time.  At Hewins Law Firm, we are usually able to anticipate well in advance of when payments will stop, so we can prepare them for what to do when TTD payments stop.  Generally, unrepresented injured employees don’t learn about this important milestone in a worker’s compensation case until the day the doctor enters his or her final orders.  Sometimes, however, we meet employees who had no idea their worker’s comp checks stopped until the next one doesn’t come in the mail, because their doctor failed to adequately communicate with the employees.  One major benefit of hiring a worker’s compensation lawyer like Charles Hewins of Hewins Law Firm early in your case is that we can help you anticipate when your worker’s comp checks might stop.

It almost goes without saying, but if you return to work, earning full hours at full pay, you wouldn’t be entitled to worker’s comp checks any longer.  This is because TTD checks are wage replacement – you can’t get full worker’s comp payments and full pay at the same time.  If you are released to only part time work, however, you may be entitled to something called Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) payments, which are designed to make up for reduced wages while working at least a little bit.

Similarly, if your employer offers you the opportunity to return to work within the doctor’s outlined restrictions but you refuse that offer, then the worker’s compensation company’s is also allowed to stop paying you the worker’s compensation checks.  At Hewins Law Firm, our advice to clients has always been that if an offer to return to work is made, the employee should at least try to return to work within the restrictions as opposed to outright refusing.  If you find yourself in a situation where you’re told to return to work with restrictions and not sure you can, check out this blog post to learn more about your options.

Your workers comp check may be missing because the insurance company has withheld payments pending a doctor’s report.

Under Indiana law, the worker’s compensation insurance company generally is required to issue TTD payments on a weekly basis, though the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act says that by agreement, payments may be made semi-monthly or monthly.  There is no wiggle room within the law that allows the worker’s compensation company to deviate from this payment schedule.  However, clients of Hewins Law Firm frequently report that their checks have arrived late, and when we contact the insurance adjustors on their behalf, we learn that the insurance adjustor has “withheld” payment while waiting for the results of a doctor’s report.  The insurance adjustors are hoping, of course, the doctor place the injured worker at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) so they can stop making payments.  However, the law does not permit this to happen, and when this type of thing does occur for our clients, we immediately jump into action and demand that worker’s comp insurance companies stop unlawfully withholding payments.  Unfortunately, even though Indiana prohibits checks from being withheld, it is a frequent practice, and the one and only penalty that can be enforced against worker’s compensation insurance companies for engaging in these practices is very rarely enforced.  That’s why it may be to your benefit to hire a skilled Indiana Worker’s Compensation attorney like Charles Hewins of Hewins Law Firm.

Your workers comp check may be missing because the worker’s compensation insurance adjuster is on vacation.

Another reason worker’s comp checks can be delayed is that the insurance adjustor responsible for issuing those checks is on vacation.  Hewins Law Firm has no sympathy for an insurance company, which probably has thousands of employees, who cannot issue checks on time simply because an adjustor is on vacation.  Being on vacation is not an adequate or reasonable excuse for the failure to issue worker’s compensation checks on time.  After all, our clients depend on these checks to be issued on time, and regularly, just like their ordinary paychecks.  If you ever find out your check was late because the adjuster was on vacation, that’s a sign that the worker’s compensation insurance company may be doing other things that work to your disadvantage.  Call Hewins Law Firm to learn more.

Your workers comp check may be missing because it got lost in the mail.

It is certainly possible on rare occasions for a worker’s comp check to be lost in the mail.  When my clients do report that, that is my first assumption, that the check was simply delayed by the mail.  We reach out to the insurance adjustor or the attorney assigned to represent the employer to find out that answer.  If they do indicate that the payment was in fact issued and sent, then we can identify a mail delay as the culprit.  If the mail delay ends up taking too long, we assist our clients in making sure that a replacement check is issued and delivered via overnight mail as soon as possible. 

Conclusion.

In conclusion, one of the major purposes for Indiana’s worker’s compensation system is to allow for injured Indiana workers to continue to receive some form of wage even when they are unable to work as a result of a work accident.  Because this is such a fundamental part of the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act, any deliberate or negligent delay in the issuance of those checks by the worker’s compensation insurance company can have devastating effects for injured Indiana workers.  If you are encountering a situation where you have not received a check and you think that you should, or if you discover that the checks you do receive are frequently late and are not issued on a consistent basis, please reach out to Hewins Law Firm.  As always, the initial consultation is completely free.