When you file a worker’s compensation claim and work your way through the workers’ comp process, eventually you reach the point of settlement discussions and the complicated factors that go into determining what your injury is worth under the law. Part of that determination can and often does involve valuing an injury to a particular body part.
What are some of the factors to consider in any workers’ comp settlement offers?
There are a number of factors that go into evaluating any workers’ compensation settlement offers. One is whether your treating physician assigned you a percentage disability rating to an injured body part and you are able to return to your job or some other employment where you are earning as much or more than at the time of your injury. In such situations, the Workers’ Compensation Act has a Schedule of Injuries that assigns a specific number of weeks of compensation to each body part. For instance, the Schedule of Injuries deems the leg worth 200 weeks, meaning a 10% disability rating would result in 20 weeks of compensation at two thirds of your average weekly wage at the time of injury.
The Schedule of Injuries, however, may not be the proper measure of the value of your worker’s compensation claim at the time of any settlement discussions. If you have physical restrictions as a result of your injury that disable you from your previous job or have returned to work at a job that pays you less than you were making when you were injured, there are other provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act that could increase the value of your claim and any settlement you may receive.
What’s that body part worth?
The Schedule of Injuries is set out in N.C.G.S. § 97-31. So, let’s take a look at a couple of the qualifying body parts and what you might hypothetically expect to receive as a settlement for a percentage injury to that body part based on an average weekly wage of $500 yielding a weekly disability payment of $333.
- Thumb: The Schedule of Injuries sets the maximum compensation for loss of the thumb at 75 weeks. Thus, a twenty percent disability rating to the thumb would equate to a payment of approximately $5,000. Again, however, the Schedule of Injuries might not be the method to determine the value of your worker’s compensation claim if, for instance, the disability to the injured body prevents you from returning to your previous job earning the same wages.
- Foot: The Schedule of Injuries sets the maximum compensation for loss of a foot at 144 weeks. Using the above wage rate, a twenty percent disability rating to the foot would yield a payment of approximately $9,600 – 66-2/3% of your average weekly times 28.8 weeks or twenty percent of 144 weeks
Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney is incredibly important to guiding you in the right direction to ensure that you are in the best position to receive the best settlement possible for your injury. The Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC understand the system and what variables may help increase your settlement award to a fair figure.
If you have suffered an injury at work, you need to understand your rights under the law, including the benefits that you could be entitled to. To speak with one of our dedicated injury attorneys, schedule your free consultation today in our Charlotte office by calling 704-377-7777, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact form.