In Louisiana, injured workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits include medical treatment, wage loss compensation, and other valuable compensation. In order to collect benefits, you must report your injury, complete a claim process, and meet other legal requirements. If you do not follow the correct procedures, you may lose your right to workers’ compensation.
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration (OWCA) oversees all Louisiana workers’ comp claims. By law, most employers must have workers’ compensation coverage. Employers typically obtain coverage either by purchasing a workers’ comp policy from an insurance company or receiving certification from the state to self-insure. If your employer is self-insured, it pays workers’ compensation benefits directly to employees.
Like all other states, Louisiana has a no-fault workers’ compensation system. When you are injured at work, you do not have to prove that your employer carelessly or intentionally caused your injuries. Instead, you are eligible for benefits if your injury occurred at work or was caused by your work activities.
Depending on the severity of your injuries and the facts of your claim, your benefits may include:
Workers’ comp is your exclusive remedy against your employer and its insurance company. You typically cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against them. However, you may have a “third party” lawsuit if someone else’s carelessness caused your injuries (other than a coworker). In a third party lawsuit, you may be eligible for additional compensation, including pain and suffering damages (which are not available through workers' comp). To learn more, see our article on suing outside of workers’ comp.
To be eligible for workers’ comp, you must report your injury to your employer within 30 days of discovering a work-related injury or illness. If you miss this deadline, you may lose some or all of your benefits. For smooth processing of your claim, it's best to report your injury as soon as possible.
In Louisiana, your notice must be in writing and signed. It should include:
Once you report an injury, your employer should allow you to get necessary medical treatment. Under Louisiana law, you can choose your treating doctor.
In Louisiana, you do not have to file a formal, written claim with the OWCA. Instead, it is your employer’s responsibility to send a First Report of Injury (LWC-WCIA-1) to its insurance company within ten days of receiving your notice. This report officially begins your workers’ compensation claim.
Once it has your claim, the insurance company will notify OWCA and determine your eligibility for benefits. Its investigation may involve:
In Louisiana, the insurance company must either approve or deny your claim promptly. If approved, you should start receiving benefits shortly. If your claim is denied, you will receive a written notice.
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. The appeal deadlines vary, depending on the type of dispute. Medical claims must be appealed either within one year of your date of injury or within three years of your last payment of benefits. You must appeal a wage loss claim within one year of your date of injury or last payment of wage loss benefits. To appeal, you must file a Disputed Claim for Compensation form (Form LWC-WC-1008) with the OWCA.
It may be in your best interest to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer at this point. Most workers’ comp appeals require extensive legal and medical expertise. It can be difficult for injured workers to develop and present their claims without assistance. To learn more, see our article on when you should hire a workers’ comp lawyer.