Types of Disability Benefits in D.C.
There are four kinds of disability payments possible under D.C. workers’ compensation law. These benefits are classified based on the extent of the injury and how long you are expected to be out of work.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD): Workers can receive temporary partial disability benefits if their injuries require them to miss work, but they are expected to return once they recuperate. In some cases, an injured worker can receive TPD while still performing light duty at their job, provided their doctor has released them back to work.
- Temporary total disability (TTD): Temporary total disability payments are for workers who are unable to work at all but are expected to return to work once they recover.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD): In some cases, D.C. workers are so injured that they cannot work at the same level as they did prior to their injury. When this happens, they can receive permanent partial disability payments. The length of time that someone can receive PPD depends on what body part was injured and the impairment rating that he or she receives from the doctor. These schedules are set by the District of Columbia.
- Permanent total disability (PTD): Employees whose injuries or illnesses prevent them from earning any kind of living can file for permanent total disability benefits, or PTD. Obtaining these benefits is difficult and rare. Generally speaking, only workers who have fully lost multiple body parts — such as both arms, both legs, both hands or feet, or both eyes — are eligible for PTD.
If you are deemed eligible for weekly disability payments, those payments will be equivalent to two-thirds of your average weekly wages for the twenty-six weeks preceding your injury.
When Will I Receive My Benefits?
If you wish to claim workers’ compensation benefits in Washington, D.C., your first step is to notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. Once that’s done, you’ll need to fill out DCWC Form 7 and file it with the D.C. Office of Workers’ Compensation within 30 days of your injury or within 30 days of finding out about the injury or occupational disease.
To preserve your right to claim workers’ compensation benefits, you’ll also need to fill out DCWC Form 7A and send it to the Office of Workers’ Compensation.
Once your employer has been notified of your injury, it has 10 days to submit a report to the Office of Workers’ Compensation, which is DCWC Form 8.
At this point, your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier will either accept or deny your claim. If your claim is accepted, you’ll start receiving benefits, though the first three days you miss from work will not be covered unless you end up missing more than 14 days total.
If your claim is denied or you do not believe that you are receiving the full benefits you are entitled to, you can request an informal hearing with a claims examiner from the Office of Workers’ Compensation or go straight to the formal hearing process.
In an informal hearing, the claims examiner will issue a non-binding recommendation within 30 days of the conference. At a formal hearing, an administrative law judge will likely issue a ruling after listening to arguments from your side and your employer’s.
If you’re still unsatisfied with the ruling about your benefits, it’s still possible to appeal to the D.C. Compensation Review Board and from there, to the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Although a workers’ compensation lawyer is not required for filing a claim and pursuing your benefits, it’s in your best interest to arrange a consultation with an attorney so that you know what to expect. At the hearing stage, evidence, witness testimony, and other documentation may be introduced by both sides to argue their case. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you collect this information and represent you in these proceedings if you choose.
Can I Get Fired for Filing for Workers’ Compensation in D.C.?
It’s illegal to be fired in D.C. because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. But that doesn’t prevent your employer from trying to find a way around this restriction. You can still be fired for another reason while you are navigating the workers’ compensation process, and your employer may argue that it needs to fill your position or find some other justification.
The workers’ compensation system was created, in part, to protect employers from frivolous lawsuits. In exchange for providing no-fault benefits to injured workers, employers cannot be sued for negligence through a personal injury claim. If you are fired for pursuing protections that you are legally entitled to, your employer can face stiff penalties. Reach out to Trollinger Law LLC right away if this has happened to you.
What Are My Rights After Filing for Workers’ Compensation?
Under the District of Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Act, you have the right to:
- Choose your own doctor: Your employer can choose for you if you are incapacitated and unable to make the decision yourself. If you are unsatisfied with your provider, you have the right to request a different doctor, but the change will have to be approved by your employer’s insurer or the D.C. Office of Workers’ Compensation.
- Request prompt workers’ compensation payment: You are entitled (with few exceptions) to benefits as long as you can prove that the injury or illness arises out of or in the course of performing your work duties.
- Appeal: You have the right to request a reconsideration of your application for workers’ compensation if you disagree with the insurer’s decision.
Although you can’t file a personal injury claim against your employer for work-related injuries, you may be able to sue if a third-party bears responsibility for your injuries. A workers’ compensation lawyer can tell you more about any potential third-party claims that might apply in your case.
Most Common Work Injuries
Some of the most common injuries that result in workers’ compensation claims include:
- Repetitive stress injuries (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Slip and fall
- Trip and fall
- Falling from heights
- Overexertion injuries, especially back injuries causing nerve damage from lifting heavy objects
- Being struck by a falling or moving object
- Explosions and fires
- Occupational illnesses (e.g., mesothelioma)
If you’ve suffered a workplace injury or were diagnosed with a job disease in D.C., it’s important to act quickly. There are deadlines throughout the process that must be met or you could lose your rights to benefits. For immediate help, reach out to Trollinger Law LLC now.
How a D.C. Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
At Trollinger Law LLC, we know that figuring out what it takes to secure workers’ compensation in Washington, D.C. is hard. That’s why we’re here. Whether you live in D.C. or in Maryland and commute to a job in D.C. every day, our law firm can stand up for you.
Ready to meet with a D.C. workers’ comp lawyer? Scheduled your free initial consultation by calling or visiting our contact page now.