Being injured on the job is much different being injured in a negligence scenario. Workers rarely suffer permanent disability. And, the only time negligence applies following a workplace injury is when a personal injury case also winds up in standard state court with professional legal representation pursuing general damages for pain and suffering due to some condition that proves negligence on the part of the employer.
Workers compensation cases do not include any sort of general damages for pain and suffering. They only address long-term impact of inability to work based on the pay rate of the position they held as an employee when injured and the determined percentage of disability suffered in their physical extremities. This determination is typically the last component of settling a claim as it happens when the injury is repaired as much as is medically possible.
Who is eligible for a Schedule Loss Of Use award?
Any worker is eligible for a SLU award if they have been injured in any part of their extremities. The extremities include all body components of the arms and legs, and each particular part is assessed for disability by percentage. Some workplace injuries result in specific body parts being injured when an accident occurs, but others can be repetitive motion disorders.
These extremities begin with shoulders and extend to the forearms and finger tips with the lower region beginning with the hips and extending to all lower parts of the legs. Eye injuries or loss of vision, loss of hearing, and physical scarring are included as well. Each body part loss of function is assessed by percentage as stated by a physician who makes the final determination through the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission.
The total amount of the SLU award is calculated by counting the totals for each extremity part based a specific number of weeks the injury was disabling.
How is MMI determined?
Calculating the injured claimant’s MMI begins with compiling the total income they received for 52 weeks prior to the injury occurrence. This produces the average weekly wage of the injured worker. This result is the total amount of earned income, or gross income, and not the eventual take home after taxes are deducted.
This amount is then used as a baseline and multiplied by the total amount of SLU as determined by the percentage of disability for each applicable functional factor. The final discounted total is the amount of award that is allowed for the particular injured worker as determined by the IWCC. The claimant then must decide if they want to receive the benefit in a single lump sum payment or be paid the average weekly allowance for a specific period of weeks.
How much is a SLU award?
The amount of a workers compensation benefits award is the combination of the temporary benefits received while an injury is being rehabilitated plus the final SLU determination after it is determined a worker cannot return to their former employment position.
The SLU actually replaces the exemption for employers regarding liability for a costly personal injury lawsuit. While this can still be an option when there is provable evidence of negligence by the employer, this actually most commonly happens in instances of wrongful death or catastrophic injury when employers have been violating rules and regulations for the workplace as established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known in the employment field as OSHA.
One of the primary problems with the scheduled injury table is that each body part is assigned a different number of weeks which vary significantly with respect to the injury. Head injuries are the least on the workers comp schedule, while others carry extended benefit such as hand injuries.
Part of Body Number of Weeks Paid
|Body Part Injured
|Arm amputated above elbow
|Arm amputated at shoulder joint
|Any non-big toe
|Leg amputated above knee
|Leg amputated at hip joint
|Loss of sight in one eye
|Loss of one eye
|Hearing loss occupational
|Hearing loss accidental/trauma
|Loss of hearing in both ears
|Kidney, spleen, or lung removal
|Loss of one testicle
|Loss of both testicles
|Fracture of facial bone
|Fracture of a vertebra
|Fracture of spine
Life Going Forward
It is important for all injured workers to understand that workers compensation benefits are just the beginning of the process in many cases because they could also be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance awards or a private disability plan from the employer as well. This is especially true for those working under a collective bargaining agreement with a specific retirement plan such as railroad workers.
Just as in personal injury accident claims, all cases are unique in some respects and the implications on life going forward for the injured claimant always differs to some degree. All injured workers compensation benefits claimants must make a decision as to whether to pursue further employment if at all possible.
Injured workers should never rule out the potential for a general damages lawsuit when they have an aggressive and experienced workers compensation attorney who understands how to craft a solid case for additional damage claims.
This can be a complicated process, and personal injury lawsuits are always vigorously defended. However, the fact that employers carry limited workers comp insurance protection does not mean that they are not liable for whole damages when they are skirting OSHA rules or indirectly creating unnecessary dangerous work conditions for their workers.
Workers comp is really just a claim for covered damages through an insurance policy. And, this is especially true for those who are permanently injured and will have no option for further employment. Always retain a knowledgeable and reputable legal professional with a strong track record of solid results for their injured clients. You only have one opportunity at financial justice, and it is important to make that opportunity count.