Some states have a list of injuries and corresponding compensation for workers' compensation claims. However, some states don't schedule injuries. Even in states with scheduled losses, not all injuries are listed because some injuries are unique. Below are some of the main techniques states use to calculate compensation for unscheduled losses.
Lost Earning or Ability to Earn
Some states base your permanent disability awards on your lost income or your post-accident ability to earn. For example, the court may consider how much you used to make before your injury and how much you are now making. Your disability award will then be a percentage of the reduction in earning.
In some states, the calculation is much more complicated than that. The court may consider every little factor that affects your ability to earn. This includes things like your education level, previous work injury, current limitations, and age, among other factors. The court then determines your disability award as proportional to your ability to earn.
Degree of Overall Impairment
Some states don't consider your earning or ability to earn, but rather the degree of impairment with which the injury has left you. Again, there are different approaches to this method. For example, some states have a formula for determining the degree of impairment. The formula uses different inputs relating to your injuries and gives a result that reflects your degree of impairment. Other states have published guidelines that determine which injuries correspond to which percentage impairment. In many of these cases, the exact calculations will require input from your doctors or medical records since they have the data on your injuries.
As you might imagine, both of the approaches above have their pros and cons. Some states want to get the best of both worlds by combining the above methods. The exact combinations of the calculations vary by state. For example, a state may use your degree of permanent disability to determine your award. However, if you are able to earn any income despite your disability, the court then reduces the award in proportion to the percentage of income you have retained after your injury.
As you can imagine, the determination of disability awards for workers' compensation can be pretty complicated. It might even seem like a subjective determination to some people. As the injury victim, your work is cut out for you if you want to receive the maximum disability award possible for your case. Consult a workers' compensation lawyer at a firm like Bishop Dorfman Kroupa & Bishop PC to help you get what you deserve.