If you were injured while working in Delaware, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the nature of your injuries and your ability to work, you might receive medical treatment, compensation for lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and other disability payments. (However, to receive benefits, you must first file a Delaware workers’ comp claim.) Below, we explain how workers’ compensation benefits are calculated in Delaware.
If you’re unable to perform any type of work due to your injury, you will be eligible for total disability benefits. Total disability benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to the state’s maximum benefit ($689.45 as of July 1, 2016). These benefits are paid as long as you are totally disabled—potentially for a lifetime.
Certain serious injuries are presumed to be totally disabling, including:
Additionally, other injuries (such as broken bones, sprains, strains, and occupational illnesses) are totally disabling if they prevent you from working.
You will receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits if you can return to work while being treated for your injuries, but at lower wages than normal. This typically happens when you have doctor’s restrictions that limit your ability to work and your employer offers you light-duty or part-time work. TPD benefits are paid until:
TPD benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and your post-injury earnings. For example, suppose you earned $800 per week before your injury, but you now earn $650 per week in a light-duty position. You will receive $100 per week in TPD benefits ($800 - $650 = $150; .667 x $150 = $100).
Once you reach MMI, you will be evaluated for a permanent disability. If you are permanently unable to perform any type of work, you will continue to receive total disability benefits (discussed above). If you have permanent limitations but can still work in some capacity, you will be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Delaware pays PPD benefits for both scheduled and unscheduled losses. These benefits are subject to the same maximum as total disability benefits.
Delaware awards scheduled loss benefits if you’ve had an amputation, or suffered permanent loss of use, of a body part listed in its schedule. Unlike other disability benefits, scheduled loss benefits are paid even if you do not miss time from work. These benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a period of time determined by the schedule. Each listed body part is assigned a number of weeks of payment.
Delaware’s schedule includes awards for hands, arms, legs, feet, fingers, toes, vision, hearing, and disfigurement. If you suffer a partial loss of use of a scheduled body part, benefits are paid proportionately.
Example: Suppose your left arm was amputated. According to Delaware’s schedule, a total loss of an arm is worth 250 weeks. You would receive two-thirds of your average weekly wages for 250 weeks. Now suppose that you only suffered a 50% loss of use of your left arm. You would receive 125 weeks of benefits (50% of 250 weeks = 125 weeks).
Many injuries—for example, those to the neck, back, and lungs—are not included in Delaware’s schedule. If you have a permanent impairment to a body part not listed in the schedule, you can receive an unscheduled award.
Once you reach MMI, your doctor will assign you an impairment rating that is based on lost function to the body as a whole. Your unscheduled loss award will be:
2/3 of your AWW x % impairment x 300 weeks
Example: Suppose you injured your neck, resulting in a 30% permanent impairment. You would receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage for 90 weeks (30% of 300 weeks = 90).
If a workplace injury or illness results in death, the worker’s family may receive death or survivors’ benefits. Surviving spouses, minor children, and other dependents are eligible for a weekly benefit payment. This benefit amount varies, depending on the worker’s marital status and number of dependents. However, it cannot be more than the state’s maximum weekly benefit described above. Additionally, the family may receive up to $3,500 for burial and funeral expenses. (To learn more, including eligibility requirements, see our article on death benefits in workers' comp.)