A work injury can cause major disruptions to your life—not only your health, but also to your career, finances, and overall well-being. The Utah workers’ compensation system is designed to compensate you for some of these losses and get you back to work as soon as possible. However, worker’s comp also limits the amount of money you can receive from your employer. This article explains the types and amounts of benefits that are available through workers’ comp. (To get these benefits, you will need to file a Utah workers’ compensation claim.)
In Utah, temporary disability benefits are paid to workers who need more than three days off work due to their injuries. The first three days of disability are not paid, unless you miss more than 14 days of work.
Temporary total disability benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but cannot exceed a maximum amount set by law each year. As of July 1, 2017, the maximum benefit is $855 per week. (The cap is updated annually in July; you can find a list of the maximums at the website of the Utah Industrial Accidents Division.) Temporary total benefits are paid until you reach maximum medical improvement or until you’re able return to your normal job.
Temporary partial disability benefits are paid when you’re able to work but earning less than usual due to your injury. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and what you’re able to earn after your injury, plus $5 for each spouse and dependent minor child (up to four). Temporary partial benefits are paid for a maximum of 312 weeks and are subject to the same weekly maximum as temporary total benefits.
Once your medical treatment is complete, your doctor will evaluate you for a permanent disability. If you are found to be permanently and totally disabled, you will continue to receive weekly payments for life. A permanent and total disability is one that leaves you unable to return to your normal job and unable to perform other reasonably available work, given your age, education, experience, and other factors. These benefits are two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to a weekly maximum. As of July 1, 2017, the maximum is $727 per week for permanent total disability.
If your doctor finds that you have a permanent partial disability, you may be eligible for additional benefits. Utah workers’ compensation pays for scheduled and unscheduled losses.
A scheduled loss of use award is available for permanent disabilities of certain body parts, such as the eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands, or feet. The benefit is two-thirds of your average weekly wages, but is subject to a lower cap than temporary or permanent total disability benefits. For scheduled awards, employees cannot receive more than $570 per week.
The duration of the award depends on the number of weeks assigned to each body part in a state schedule. For example, the schedule lists a total loss of use of a hand at the wrist at 168 weeks. If you have only a 10% loss of use of the hand at the wrist, you would receive 16.8 weeks of payments.
If you have a permanent disability that does not appear on the schedule, such as an injury to the spine or internal organs, you can receive an unscheduled award. The benefit is two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to the same weekly cap as scheduled awards. You will receive up to 312 weeks of payment, in proportion to the impairment rating assigned by your doctor.
Utah workers’ compensation also provides additional benefits, including:
As you can see, workers’ compensation only pays of a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp also does not pay anything for the pain and suffering caused by your injury. While this may seem unfair, it is part of the trade-off that is the workers’ comp system. The advantage of workers’ comp is that you can get benefits relatively quickly without needing to file a lawsuit or prove that your employer was at fault for causing your injury. The downside is that you can’t get the full value of your losses. (However, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering and other losses. To learn more, see our article on suing outside of the workers’ comp system.)