Most states have a workers' compensation schedule, which is a statutory way of calculating benefits for permanent partial disability benefits for workers injured on the job. The schedule details injuries to particular body parts, such as legs or hands, and how much each injury is worth in compensation.
However, some injuries, such as those affecting internal organs, do not fit neatly into such schedules. Therefore, states have come up with different methods for estimating such injuries and determining their worth. One of the common approaches used to calculate compensation for such unscheduled losses is the impairment-based approach.
In this approach, the state uses the extent of your injuries to determine how much you should get. A physician determines your degree of impairment as a percentage using a rating guide available specifically for this purpose. This percentage is then used to determine how many weeks of benefits you are entitled to, with the amount (of benefits) based on your pre-injury earnings.
Suppose a doctor examines you and gives you an impairment of 10%. Also, suppose your state's rating guide assigns three weeks of benefits for each percentage of impairment. In this case, you are entitled to receive the benefits for 30 weeks (10 x 3).
The main advantage of this approach is that your benefits aren't affected by the labor market. This means you will still receive the benefits even if your impairment doesn't keep you from work. As a consequence, it's possible to keep getting your benefits while also drawing your normal salary. A good example is when your injury results in a back injury that makes it difficult for to bend, but you can still do your job while sitting.
Unfortunately, there are several challenges with the impairment-based approach. One of them is that it is subjective; two physicians can easily come up with different percentages. This increases the possibility of appeals; especially when your employer's expert argues your impairment isn't as serious as your personal physician claims.
Another challenge is the possibility of getting minimal benefits even if your disability has kept you from work and impacted your wages. This can happen if the physician gives your impairment 5%, but it is serious enough to keep you from work. For example, a spinal injury doesn't have to be extreme for it to keep you from work if your work involves standing most of the time. The impairment-based approach isn't concerned with your inability to do your work, but rather how much you have been injured.
To learn more, contact a workers compensation attorney like John J Bublewicz Attorney At Law.