Michigan workers’ comp law uses the term “total and permanent disability” to describe a special type of disability where the injured persons who qualify are eligible to receive extra benefits because of their condition. While the number of instances where this comes into play seems to decrease every year, it can help certain people recover more money. The reason why the number of these cases is decreasing is simply because the capped maximums are not creating a large difference between the amount awarded to workers who have a general disability vs. the amount that those that have a total and permanent disability. When you quality for total and permanent disability, your benefits are not locked into place and they are able to increase to reflect the current maximums. It’s much like having your investment portfolio increasing every year to fight inflation. If you just have a general disability, your award amount is locked in and it doesn’t increase to reflect the current maximums in place. Make sure you contact your local Lansing workers compensation attorney to determine if you quality for this special disability.
The Michigan Workers’ Compensation Act and more specifically section 361.1 cite 7 different types of physical and mental conditions which would quality someone for total and permanent disability. They include loss of sight in both eyes, loss of both legs, loss of both arms, loss of any 2 in any combination of the previously mentioned conditions, paralysis in both legs, both arms, or 1 leg and 1 arm, incurable insanity, loss of use in both legs, both arms, or 1 leg and 1 arm as long as the loss of use lasts at least 30 days. For the most part, these categories are easily definable and straightforward to understand, but there can be some major debate concerning the mental conditions necessary to qualify. The mental condition must be extremely severe for a chance to qualify. In fact, the condition must be so bad that it must be equivalent to losing two members of the body or loss of sight in both of your eyes. You can just imagine how hard it is to compare a mental condition to a more concrete physical condition. How do you really know if the mental condition is worse than loss of sight for sure? Another category that becomes highly debated is the “loss of use” provision. A cutoff has to be drawn somewhere and the state of Michigan has decided that the loss must be bad enough to stop a worker from using two members of the body or extremities from functioning in any industrial activity.
In reality, the payout between a general disability and a total and permanent disability is not that much different. The employer ends up paying the same amount in both cases, but there are a few advantages to qualifying for a total and permanent disability. As I mentioned earlier, a worker can increase their actual award amount depending on the maximum rates set by the state and a worker is also able to collect the minimum benefit available. This ensures that someone with one of these extreme conditions receives at least 25% of the state average weekly wage.
The Michigan Workers Compensation Act provides what is considered to be special benefits and they are treated much differently than a “general disability”. One of these special types of benefits is “specific loss benefits”. An experienced Lansing workers compensation attorney can help determine what type of injury you have and how best to proceed with your case. The state of Michigan uses pre-determined amounts of compensation when certain injuries happen on the job and fall under workers comp laws. Instead of looking at each injury on a case-by-case basis for every single type of injury, they simply award you benefits for a predetermined length of time if you sustain a certain kind of injury provided in in the schedule. The injuries included in the act are lost fingers, toes, hands, arms, foots, leg, and eyes. The award is calculated using how long these specific injuries should last and therefore how long in weeks the benefits should be awarded to the injured worker. The main difference between specific loss and other types of injuries is the fact that these are payable even if you do not have any wage loss or you aren’t technically disabled under the law. Ordinarily, you would need to prove that you are unable to work and thus are experiencing wage loss.
For example, suppose you were injured while working on the job and during an unfortunate accident and you ended up losing your hand. The law states that you should be awarded 215 weeks’ worth of benefits. Obviously, this type of injury would fall under the specific loss provision, but you will get the 215 weeks’ worth regardless if you return to work earlier than that. Suppose that you are able to return working after 150 weeks. For the remaining 75 weeks you would continue to receive benefits on top of your normal pay because the specific loss provisions pay even without a wage loss. The minimum rate provided for injuries that full under a specific loss is 25% of the state average weekly wage. The actual amount payable will depend on your average salary and is calculated the same as any other injury in the act. If you find yourself unable to work past the 215 weeks, then the normal workers compensation evaluation must be made the exact same way as a general disability.
The specific loss schedule is as follows and states the length of time your benefits will last for a specific injury: the loss of a thumb receives 65 weeks, the loss of your 1st finger receives 38 weeks, the loss of a 2nd finger receives 33 weeks, the loss of a 3rd finger receives 22 weeks, the loss of a 4th finger receives 16 weeks, the loss of a great toes receives 33 weeks, the loss of any other toes receive 11 weeks, a loss of a hand receives 215 weeks, the loss of an arm receives 269 weeks, the loss of a foot receives 162 weeks, the loss of a leg receives 215 weeks, and the loss of an eye receives 162 weeks.
A series of bills relating to medical malpractice reform in Michigan are being introduced which would make it much more difficult to sue a doctor for malpractice. The laws in Michigan are already some of the strictest in the nation, and these bills will make it nearly impossible to sue a doctor. The bills are being termed “patients first reform” and the title of these bills are masking the real truth behind them. Much like the “clean water act” and the “clear skies act” which were introduced in the George W. Bush era, the title of the bill is meant to sound like a good thing when the bill really does just the opposite and it’s surprisingly effective in tricking the general public.
This medical malpractice reform would pretty much eliminate the ability for citizens to sue the doctor who caused them harm through complete negligence and these doctors will not be held accountable for their wrongful actions. Bill 1116 states that “a health care professional or facility would not be liable if the doctor acted with reasonable and good-faith belief that the conduct was well founded in medicine and in the patient’s best interests.” This basically makes the only way to sue a doctor for malpractice is if the wrongdoing or malpractice was completely intentional. Let’s be honest, doctors don’t intentionally cause harm, but they cause harm through critical mistakes and lack of knowledge. If this bill passes you couldn’t sue your doctor if he/she made a crucial mistake that should never be made as long as the mistake wasn’t intentional, and this is just simply unfair and absurd. Bill 1115 reduces the amount a patient could recover if they do successfully bring a medical malpractice suit. Not only does it make it harder to bring a lawsuit and reduce the damages, but it also narrows the statute of limitations which reduces the time period you are allowed to sue.
The usual argument for these bills is that frivolous lawsuits are the cause for rising medical care prices and these bills are necessary to stop these worthless suits. Frivolous lawsuits are really a myth because the legislation already makes it impossible for such a suit to be profitable. A Lansing personal injury attorney is not going to take a case where they have to spend high out of pocket costs with no reward, but this doesn’t stop the supporters from referring to this term constantly. Nobody likes the term frivolous lawsuits, but how do these bills address this so called problem? They simply don’t! These bills are going after the serious incidents and accidents, not the smaller by nature frivolous suits. Capping serious medical malpractice or limiting the ability to bring a legitimate claim does no help to stopping “frivolous” lawsuits. Another argument that is made to support these bills is that it would encourage an environment to bring more doctors into the state. First of all, there is no shortage of doctors in Michigan and if anything these bills would bring in lower quality doctors because they don’t have to be held accountable for their negligence. Essentially, it will be a safe environment for dangerous physicians and doctors. Is this really what the residents in the state of Michigan want or is this what big insurance companies want?