Scheduled Loss of Use vs. Classification: Maximizing Your Settlement
A work-related injury will result in a settlement if there is determined to be some permanent Schedule Loss of Use (“SLU”) of an extremity, including a knee, shoulder, hand, foot, or leg. The SLU settlement will come with lifelong medical protection for the extremity should your condition worsen. However, many insurance carriers are willing to negotiate a quick SLU settlement in cases that would result in potential classification of a person as Permanently Partially Disabled (“PPD”). A classification is a more lucrative route and is warranted if the condition results in chronic pain that would prevent you from performing jobs in the national economy.
Example 1: Schedule Loss of Use (“SLU”)
A carpenter fractures his arm on the job. He is in a cast for two months but the fracture heals and he is able to return to work with minimal permanent physical damage. However, he is still able to attain a 20% schedule loss of use award because the range of motion in his arm is diminished and feels some discomfort on rainy days.
Example 2: Classification
The same carpenter requires two surgeries to fix the injury instead of a cast. He suffers from chronic pain and is unable to perform his job. This would warrant a classification and a calculation of the person’s Loss Wage Earning Capacity (“LWEC”) as a result of the injury.
Differences Between the Two
A classification is appropriate if the condition is chronic, severe, and disabling. An extremity need not be deformed in order to qualify for a classification, but the workers’ compensation law judge will have complete discretion in determining whether an injury should be scheduled or classified. In one particular case, a classification was found appropriate in a claim where there was only a 7.5% scheduled loss of use, but the condition was subject to periodic flare-ups and restricted the individual from working more than 20 hours per week. A classification of 15% loss wage-earning capacity (LWEC) would net a claimant 225 weeks of benefits at their weekly rate. For further example, a 95% LWEC classification would net a claimant 525 weeks of benefits.
An insurance carrier will push a schedule loss of use award when it comes time for settlement because it is the cheaper route for them. Be patient, consult with your doctors, and consult with an attorney to ensure you are maximizing your settlement.
Contact Schwartzapfel® Lawyers, P.C.
Insurance companies will do their best to minimize the amount of compensation you receive, and may tell you that you are eligible for less than you really are. Do not listen to them. Instead, contact an attorney at Schwartzapfel® Lawyers, P.C. for counsel. With over 150 years of experience, our attorneys have the expertise and knowledge necessary to pursue maximum benefits and compensation for you. Call us today at 1-516-342-2200 or fill out our online contact form for immediate attention to your case. We will fight for you!