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To what workers' comp benefits are Nebraska employees entitled?

First, don't confuse workers' compensation benefits with unemployment benefits. They are not the same. Workers' compensation is an insurance policy that is carried by employers to cover work-related injuries sustained by their employees. If an employee is injured while on the job, this insurance policy provides coverage for things such as medical expenses, loss of wages, and disability benefits.

Medical benefits: Workers' compensation is liable for medical treatment, hospitalizations, prescription drugs, prosthetic devices, and any mechanical appliances or devices necessary that came about because of a work-related injury. The one caveat is that there are rules about who selects the physician the employee uses. If an employer informs an injured employee of his or her right to choose a doctor, the employee may choose only a physician that has previously treated him or her, or a family member, and must give the name of the physician to the employer. If the employer does not inform the employee of one's right to choose a physician, the employee may go to any physician. It is important to know the specific rules when selecting a physician to avoid being denied payment.

Loss of wages: Disability pay for lost wages begins on the eighth calendar day after the injury occurred. Only when the disability lasts more than six weeks is an employee compensated for the first seven days. Disability benefits are paid at the same time as the employee's wages would have been paid. Payments are sent directly to the employee or a designated representative.

Total and partial disability benefits: Total disability benefits pays two-thirds of an employee's salary until the employee is released by one's physician to return to work. Partial benefits may be temporary or permanent depending on the type of injury (whether it is permanent or temporary). Partial benefits are paid when an employee can return to only part time work or to a job paying less. The amount is two-thirds of the difference between previous wages and the current wages.

Injured employees would be wise to consult a workers' compensation attorney to ensure they are apprised of additional rules relating to compensation. Medical treatment is under scrutiny by workers' compensation and often requires advance approval. An attorney can also oversee medical treatment to ensure treatment decisions are timely and fair.

Source: Official Nebraska Government Website, "Nebraska Workers' Compensation Court," accessed Nov. 22, 2016

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