North Dakota's system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance may be obtained through a state fund. Waivers may be permitted to exclude certain employees from coverage, including corporate officers.
Exemptions from coverage may apply to certain employees, including certain agricultural workers, domestic workers employed by a homeowner, real estate agents and brokers, and casual laborers.
Medical Benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including coverage for necessary medical treatment.
The employee makes the initial choice of treating physician, and may later request a change of doctors. The workers' compensation physician may order a change of doctors.
Indemnity benefits are payable to injured workers to help make up for lost income. There is a waiting period of 5 days before a worker is eligible for indemnity benefits, which are retroactive to the date of the injury.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's average pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and continue for up to 104 weeks. Offsets may apply for Social Security disability benefits.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In North Dakota PTD benefits are calculated based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's pre-injury wage, subject to a cap, and are payable until retirement. Some workers will qualify for "additional benefits payable" (APB) benefits, which are payable until death. Benefits are periodically adjusted for inflation. Offsets may apply for Social Security offset benefits or retirement benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In North Dakota personal partial impairment (PPI) benefits are determined based on a statutory schedule, and are based upon 35% of the state average weekly wage in effect on the date of the impairment evaluation. For unscheduled injuries, PPI benefits are based on an assessment of the injured worker's functional impairment, with a maximum benefit of 1,500 weeks.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In North Dakota, TPD benefits are paid based upon 2/3 of the difference between the injured worker's pre-injury and post-injury wage, subject to a cap. Benefits are payable until the injured worker's wages return to 90% of the pre-injury level, up to a maximum of 260 weeks.
For some, more serious injuries, workers' compensation, a lump sum impairment benefits may be paid according to a statutory formula without respect to the extent of disability that results from the injury.
Coverage may be available for cumulative trauma, disfigurement, and occupational hearing loss.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, workers' compensation pays additional benefits, including a burial allowance, and benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents. Survivor benefits are calculated based on 2/3 of the worker's pre-injury wage, subject to a cap in amount, with a modest additional benefit for dependent children. Benefits may continue for minors until the age of 18, the age of 22 if the dependent is a student, or indefinitely in the event of disability. Spousal benefits end upon remarriage.
An additional, small lump sum benefit is payable to the deceased worker's spouse or the guardian of the worker's children, and for each child. Scholarships may be available for the benefit of a surviving spouse or child.
Attorney fees are limited by $135 per hour, and are capped at 20% of the amount in dispute. Fees are paid by the Department of Workforce Safety and Insurance.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, states frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The state agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance
1600 East Century Avenue, Suite 1
Bismarck, ND 58503-0644
(701) 328-3800 or 1-800-777-5033