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Understanding the workers compensation settlement chart

Understanding the workers comp settlement chart can be a difficult task. Two charts are the primary focus of the parties during settlement discussions. The first chart relates to Schedule Loss of Use (SLU). The second chart relates to Loss of Wage Earning Capacity (LWEC).

Settlement with SLU

Schedule loss of use, or SLU, refers to permanent injury to an extremity. This includes injuries to the arms, hands, legs, and feet. It also includes the fingers and toes. The NY Workers’ Compensation Law has assigned values to each of the above body parts. For example, 100% SLU to the arm equals 312 weeks of compensation. Or, 100% SLU to the foot equals 205 weeks of compensation. The law assigns different values to different body parts. Workers comp settlement for a SLU case requires referring to the relevant chart. The chart lists the values for each body part in terms of weeks of compensation. To do the math, the worker will also need to know their average weekly wage. They will also need to calculate what the insurance carrier (and/or their employer) has paid them to date on the case.

Lets say a worker’s average weekly wage is $1,000 per week. The rate of payment on a SLU award is two-thirds (2/3) of the average weekly wage. Here, the rate of payment would be $666.67. Lets also say the Board finds the worker to suffer from a 50% SLU to the arm. Per the chart, the arm is worth 312 weeks of compensation. Thus, 50% SLU to the arm equals 156 weeks of compensation. 156 weeks times the rate of $666.67 equals an award of $104,000.52. The award is then reduced by what the carrier (and/or employer) has paid the worker to date on the case. This value may differ if protracted healing period (PHP) comes into play. In that case, additional weeks of compensation will be added to the calculation. Understanding the workers comp settlement chart for SLU is key in negotiating a fair settlement.

Workers Comp Settlement with LWEC

Loss of wage earning capacity also requires use of a chart. For a worker who suffers permanent injury to a systemic site, like the head or spine, the case will often result in an LWEC finding. The percentage of LWEC determines both rate of pay and for how long. The parties will refer to Table 9.1 of the New York State Guidelines for Determining Permanent Impairment and Loss of Wage Earning Capacity. Average weekly wage is also a factor. LWEC takes into account the degree of permanent injury. It also takes into account vocational factors such as age, education, and prior work skills/experience. The LWEC percentage is essential in understanding workers comp settlement for spine or head injury cases.

For example, lets say the Board finds the worker to suffer from a 65% LWEC. In that scenario, looking to Table 9.1, the worker will receive 375 weeks of compensation. The rate of payment for those weeks of compensation is determined by the LWEC percentage and the worker’s average weekly wage. Here, for a worker with an average weekly wage of $1,000 and LWEC of 65%, the rate would be $433.33. Thus, the worker would receive $433.33 per week for 375 weeks into the future. The parties will then look at the total amount due and take into account present value for settlement. Every case is different. Understanding the workers comp settlement charts is necessary to get a fair deal.