How to File a Workers' Compensation Claim in Michigan

Learn when and how to file your workers' comp claim in Michigan.

Michigan workers’ compensation pays benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Workers may receive medical treatment, compensation for wage loss, and other financial assistance. To collect benefits, you must meet certain requirements—including reporting your injury to your employer and making a timely claim for benefits.

How Does the Michigan Workers’ Compensation System Work?

In Michigan, most employers must have workers’ compensation coverage—either by purchasing a policy from a private insurance company or by receiving certification from the state to self-insure. (In general, only large, financially stable employers will qualify to self-insure.) The Michigan Workers’ Compensation Agency oversees all workers’ comp claims in the state.

Like all other states, Michigan has a no-fault workers’ compensation system. You do not need to show that your employer acted carelessly in order to receive benefits. As long as your injury happened on the job or was caused by your work activities, you will typically be eligible for benefits.

Eligible workers may receive a variety of benefits, including:

  • wage loss benefits (if you are earning less because of your injury)
  • specific loss benefits (for an amputation or loss of use of a body part)
  • reasonable and necessary medical care, and
  • vocational rehabilitation (training or education for a new line of work).

To be eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits, an injured worker must report the injury and ask for workers’ comp benefits.

How Do I Make a Claim?

Notifying your employer is the first step to starting your workers’ compensation claim. In Michigan, you must notify your employer within 90 days of suffering a work-related injury. If your injury or illness developed over time, you must give notice within 90 days of discovering that your condition was work-related. If you fail to give notice within 90 days, you may lose the right to collect benefits.

In addition to giving notice, you must also make a demand for workers' compensation. You can do this at the same time you report your injury, by telling your employer that you want to receive workers' comp benefits. Under Michigan law, you must make this demand within two years of discovering your work-related injury—otherwise you may lose the right to collect benefits.

Despite these deadlines, employees should provide notice and demand workers' comp as quickly as possible. Employers and insurance companies are skeptical of delayed claims and tend to deny them. Giving notice and getting medical treatment early on will reduce the likelihood of a claim denial.

In Michigan, notice can be either oral or written. However, written requests are best since they document the date you requested benefits. When you notify your employer, provide as much detail as possible, including:

  • when the accident happened
  • how you hurt yourself
  • what symptoms you are experiencing, and
  • that you want to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Your employer may also ask you to fill out a written accident report. When completing the report, be as accurate as possible. Accident reports are frequently used as evidence in disputed claims and any inconsistencies might be used against you.

How Do I Get Medical Treatment?

Once you notify your employer and request workers’ comp benefits, it should notify its workers’ compensation insurance company and send you to an occupational doctor. Under Michigan law, you must treat with your employer’s doctor for the first 28 days of treatment (except for emergency treatment). It is important to provide the doctor with accurate information about how you were injured and the severity of your symptoms. Insurance companies rely heavily on medical records of initial treatment when they evaluate claims. Either downplaying or exaggerating your symptoms may result in a denial of benefits.

What Happens After I Make a Claim?

Michigan workers typically do not need to file formal paperwork with the Workers’ Compensation Agency. Instead, they simply have to report the injury and request workers’ compensation benefits from their employers (as discussed above). Your employer should then notify its insurance company of your claim. However, if your employer refuses to do so, you should file an Employee’s Report of Claim (Form WC-117) with the Workers’ Compensation Agency. The Agency will forward your claim to your employer’s insurance company.

Once it has received your claim, the insurance company will determine your eligibility for benefits. Its investigation may involve:

  • reviewing your medical records
  • analyzing your work experience, education, and wages
  • ordering a medical examination to assess your condition, and
  • sending you for a functional capacity evaluation (an assessment of your ability to perform work duties).

Under Michigan law, the insurance company must promptly pay your workers’ compensation benefits. Most accepted claims are paid several weeks after notice of the injury is given. Unfortunately, insurance companies deny many workers’ compensation claims.

Appealing a Denied Workers’ Compensation Claim

If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. To begin the process, you must file an Application for Mediation or Hearing (WC-104A) with the Workers’ Compensation Agency. Unless your claim is very simple, you should consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. The insurance company will have a lawyer and you may be at a disadvantage if you proceed without an attorney.

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