In our last post, we began looking at schedule loss of use awards, which are available to injured workers who have lost full functioning of one or more body parts in a workplace accident. The way a schedule loss of award of use award works is that state law dictates how many “benefit weeks” the injured worker will receive.
The number is based on the specific body part at issue and the extent of the loss of use. For body parts which are permanently injured, including by amputation, there is a maximum amount of benefit weeks available. Getting a schedule loss of use award is not an automatic process, and it is important to correctly navigate the process to ensure an injured worker receives the benefit to which he or she is entitled.
First of all, an injured worker must have a doctor’s opinion in order to receive a schedule loss of use award. The doctor determines when the worker has reached a point where his or her injury has healed to the furthest extent it will heal—known as maximum medical improvement—and to determine the extent of loss of use. The doctor’s opinion is filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board, which reviews medical reports from the injured employee’s doctor and the insurer’s doctor.
If the doctors agree on the extent of injury, the board adopts the appropriate number for computing compensation. If there is a disagreement, it has to be resolved, either through a hearing or a trial. For injured employees, of course, it is critical to have an experienced advocate to ensure their interests are represented in the workers’ compensation process.
Source: Workers’ Compensation Board, “Understanding Your Schedule Loss of Use Award,” Accessed March 21, 2016.