If a work accident results in a permanent injury, knowing the severity of your injury is important in determining the long term benefits that you may receive.
What is permanent loss of use?
An accident can result in permanent loss of use when a person suffers irreversible injuries to an extremity such as the hands, arms, legs, feet, fingers and toes. In order to be classified as “permanent loss of use” doctors must determine that the injured body part will not return to the same functionality it had prior to the work accident.
Compensation for a Permanent Loss of Use Case
There are two ways you can be compensated after a work accident that results in permanent loss of use. You could be compensated either by a loss of use award (for injuries to the extremities) or by a finding that you have a loss of wage earning capacity (for “classifiable” injuries generally involving the spine or other sites not subject to schedule loss determination).
Schedule loss of use benefits are generally paid in a lump sum for percentage loss of use of the hands, arms, legs, feet, fingers and toes. You must be found to have reached maximum medical improvement in order to receive these awards. Such awards are based upon Medical permanency guidelines published by the Board and are based upon various medical, but not vocational, factors. These are generally one time payments although if your injury becomes worse over time, you may receive additional benefits under certain circumstances.
If you sustain permanent injury to your back or neck, you may only receive payment if you are disabled from work or if you have to engage in work that causes you to earn less than before your injury. The process for determining your benefits for spinal injury cases can be complex as it involves vocational factors as well as medical factors. As with loss of use awards, you must be found to have reached maximum medical improvement.
After a Work Accident, Consult a Worker’s Comp Attorney
It is extremely important that you speak with a qualified worker’s comp attorney who is familiar with workers’ compensation laws, rules and regulations so that you may maximize your recovery for permanent injury. Once these determinations are made it is extremely difficult if not impossible to change your benefit entitlement. Litigation of these issues is also generally the best time to consider settlement of your claim, which is another option to the permanency process. If you have been involved in a work accident and are concerned about your worker’s compensation benefits, please call us for a free consultation.