Many workers suffer injuries which lend themselves to a schedule loss of use. These cases typically involve injuries to the hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, thumbs, fingers, and for hearing loss.
The schedule loss of use is calculated based upon a chart found in Section 15 of the Workers’ Compensation Law. This chart demonstrates how many weeks a particular extremity is worth. For instance, the hand is worth 244 weeks under Section 15. If you are found to have a 10% loss of use of the hand, the award is equal to 10% of 244 weeks, or 24.4 weeks. Schedules are paid at the total rate in your case and paid in a one-time lump sum. In calculating the award, you multiply 24.4 weeks times the total rate in your case. If the total rate in your case is $400, the schedule award would be $9,760. However, any prior payments made to you during the course of the disability are deducted from this award. If you previously collected $3,000 in lost wage benefits, your award would be $6,760.
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When Is A Schedule Loss of Use Assessed?
A schedule loss of use is typically assessed about a year from the date of the injury or from the date of surgery. First, your doctor must opine that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement. If this is found, your doctor will provide a loss of use opinion. At this point, the Insurance Carrier can either accept your doctor’s opinion or chose to obtain an opinion from an Independent Medical Examiner. It is often the case that there is a dispute between the two doctors’ opinions. Negotiation between the two opinions is encouraged under the law, however, if an agreement cannot be reached, testimony of the two physicians is taken and the judge will render a decision on which doctor he or she finds to be more credible.
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Schedule Loss of Use & Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a little different. There are two types of hearing loss cases. The first is traumatic hearing loss, which results from an explosion or a one-type event. The second, and more common, is referred to as an occupational disease, where the hearing loss results from exposure to loud noise over a number of years, such as factory workers or tool makers. The injured worker must be removed from the noise for 90 days before a claim can be brought. The doctors will then give an opinion as to the percentage of hearing loss and an award is payable.
What is the Difference Between Schedule Loss of Use & A Settlement?
It is important to understand that a schedule loss of use is not a settlement. There are three important distinctions.
- First, a schedule loss of use is an advance payment of Workers’ Compensation benefits. This means that if your injury causes you to lose time from work again in the future, you would be required to use up the number of weeks you received until you could collect further Workers’ Compensation benefits. For example, if you received a 10% schedule loss of use of your hand, you would be required to be out of work for a total of 24.4 weeks before you could collect further Workers’ Compensation benefits.
- The second important distinction between a schedule loss of use and a settlement is medical care. With a schedule loss of use, you remain entitled to causally related medical care for your injury for your life. Generally, you give up your right to future medical care with a settlement.
- The third important distinction between a schedule loss of use and a settlement is that you can come back and make an additional claim for lost wage benefits 18 years from the date of your accident with a schedule loss of use.