North Dakota workers’ compensation pays valuable benefits to injured workers. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may be eligible for medical treatment, disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation. Below, we explain how North Dakota workers’ comp benefits are calculated. (To receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must file a North Dakota workers’ compensation claim within the state’s filing deadlines.)
If you’re unable to work for at least five days while recovering from your injury, you will be eligible for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to the state’s minimum and maximum benefits (as of July 2016, $583 and $1,214). An additional $15 is paid weekly for each of your dependent children. You will continue to receive these benefits until you return to work or reach maximum medical improvement (when your doctor determines that your condition will no longer improve with treatment, called “MMI” for short).
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits are paid to workers who can work while recovering from their injuries, but at lower-than-normal wages. TPD benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and post-injury wage earning capacity, up to the state’s maximum benefit. For example, suppose you earned $600 before your injury, but you are now limited to earning $200 at a light-duty job. Your weekly TPD benefit would be $266.67 ($600 - $200 = $400; two-thirds of $400 = $266.67).
TPD benefits are paid until you:
Under certain circumstances, the five-year cap on benefits can be waived, in which case you may also be eligible for cost-of-living increases.
Once you reach MMI, you will be evaluated for permanent disability. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are paid to workers with very severe injuries who are no longer able to work in any capacity. PTD benefits are paid at the same rate as TTD benefits: two-thirds of your average weekly wage (subject to the state’s maximum), plus $15 for each dependent child. PTD benefits are paid as long as you are totally disabled—potentially for a lifetime.
If your injury has caused a permanent impairment to your body, you may be eligible for permanent impairment (PI) benefits. You do not need to have a wage loss in order to be eligible for PI benefits. A doctor will evaluate your permanent disability and assign an impairment rating (the percentage of whole body function that you lost). If your impairment rating is 14% or higher, you may receive a PI award.
In North Dakota, your impairment rating is converted into a multiplier, ranging from ten to 1500, depending on the severity of your injuries. This number is then multiplied by 35% of the state average weekly wage (as of July 2016, this is $340).
For example, suppose you injured your neck, resulting in a 30% whole body impairment. Under North Dakota law, a 30% impairment is assigned a multiplier of 50. This number is then multiplied by $340 (50 x $340), for a total of $17,000. Typically, permanent impairment benefits are paid in a lump sum.
In North Dakota, amputations are also assigned a statutory multiplier. You will receive either your whole body impairment multiplier or the scheduled multiplier, whichever is greater.
If an injury or illness results in death, the worker’s family may receive weekly death benefits. These benefits are the same as the worker’s TTD rate and are subject to the state’s minimum and maximum benefits. A surviving spouse can also receive a one-time payment of $2,500, plus an additional $800 for each dependent child. Dependent children may also be eligible for academic scholarships. (Different rules apply if the worker does not have a surviving spouse or dependent children.) Finally, the family may receive up to $10,000 for burial and funeral expenses. (To learn more, see our article on death benefits in workers' comp.)
It can be difficult to understand workers’ comp benefit calculations. If you have questions about your rights under North Dakota’s workers’ comp laws, you should contact an experienced lawyer. A workers’ comp lawyer will review your claim and help you calculate your benefit rates.