What does workers' compensation pay for?

Workers' compensation includes medical benefits; wage loss replacement benefits (temporary total disability, permanent, partial or total disability); disfigurement, vocational rehabilitation, death benefits, and funeral expenses.

How much of my wages does workers' compensation pay for? 

Workers' compensation usually pays for 66 2/3% of an injured employee's wages after a three day waiting period. However, there is also a maximum weekly compensation rate which is the most an injured employee can receive per week. For 1998, the maximum weekly compensation rate is $508 per week. Employees who have sick leave or vacation benefits, may also wish to have these benefits paid with workers' compensation benefits so that he or she may receive an amount equal or near to 100 percent of his or her regular wages.

At the onset of your workers' compensation claim, your employer or insurer will probably have you fill out an "election form" in which you elect what benefits you want to apply. Check with your personnel or human resources department if you have any questions.

How are wage benefits calculated?

It depends on how you are normally paid. If you have worked at the same job for the past year, your employer/insurer will probably take the average earnings you have made during the past 52 weeks. If your salary changed during the year, or you worked overtime, your employer/insurer will take this into consideration and adjust the amount they pay. If you are paid on an hourly basis, your employer/insurer will multiply your hourly rate times your regular work week. Again, there is a maximum weekly compensation rate per week, regardless of your income. Once your weekly compensation rate is determined, your employer will divide the weekly rate by seven days to calculate your daily compensation rate. So, if your daily compensation rate is $30 per day, and you were totally disabled for 15 working days, you would probably receive $450 every two weeks.

What about vocational rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation aims to restore an injured worker's earning capacity as close to that level which the worker was earning at the time of the injury and to return him or her to suitable work as quickly as possible in a cost-effective manner. Employees who may have or have suffered permanent disability as a result of work injuries and who the DCD believes can be physically or vocationally rehabilitated, may be referred to voc. rehab. Voc. rehab. is not mandatory and you must give your approval for participation in the program. If you agree to participate in voc. rehab., DCD will select a voc. rehab. counselor who will assess your injuries, skills, training, education, work experience, and the labor market, and try to return you back to work. See HRS 386-25.

What about death, dependents’ and survivors’ benefits?

Workers' compensation also pays for these benefits. In the case of death resulting from a workers' compensation injury or illness, workers' compensation also pays for funeral and burial allowances, and weekly benefits to a dependent widow, widower, dependent children, and in some cases, other dependent family members, such as a parent, grandchild, brother or sister. The length that these benefits are paid differ greatly. For instance, a surviving spouse can only receive benefits until death or remarriage, with two years' compensation in one sum upon marriage. Children may receive benefits until age eighteen, or up to age twenty-two, if they are unmarried, and in school. In any instance, the employer or insurer will only pay the maximum weekly benefit, regardless of how many recipients are entitled to receive such benefits, and may apportion the weekly benefit among those qualified to receive them. See HRS 386-41 to 43.

Can I be reimbursed for travel expenses to obtain medical treatment?

Yes. Workers' compensation benefits also provides for travel (mileage) reimbursement to and from approved medical treatment. However, you must use public transportation, such as the bus, unless you are unable to use such public conveyances because of your physical condition, the nature of your injury, or depending on where you live. However, an employer or insurer will only pay for the most direct route, and only reimburse you for an amount in accordance with Hawaii state government standards. On the average, if your injury or illness prevents you from using public transportation, you may be eligible to receive about 33 cents per mile for workers' compensation medical treatment. Your employer or insurer may need to verify medical treatment with your doctor before they will reimburse you. A statement from your doctor, listing the days you were treated, may help you in filing a claim for travel reimbursement. See HRS 12-10-25.

 

DISCLAIMER: This article is intended to provide guidance on some of the legal entitlements under the WC process (by no means exhaustive) and should not be used as legal advice on the handling of a workers compensation claim.  Contact the State of Hawai’i, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Disability Compensation Division, or the Labor and Industrial Appeals Board, or the union, or retain an attorney for legal advice, as appropriate, because each claim is different.  This website is intended for educational and informational purposes only.  We expressly disclaim any responsibility for actions taken or not taken based on information on this website.  The information is provided “as is” without warranties of any kind, either express or implied.  The content is general and may not reflect current developments and is subject to change without notice.