When people suffer an injury while at work in New York, usually there is no right to sue your employer. Instead, in New York your right to recover lost wages is limited to Workers’ Compensation.
When the injury is to an extremity and there is a functional loss of that body part, after your doctor has cleared you to go to work and you have reached maximum medical improvement, you are entitled to a lump sum award, also known as the Schedule Loss of Use (or SLU in Comp parlance). The SLU award is intended to give you some monetary compensation for the loss of that body part, even if the loss is a partial one.
Comp law can be rather macabre, particularly when you consider that we as a society place a value on arms, legs, hands, feet and digits. Would you give your hand for 244 weeks of pay? If you make a million a week? What if I told you the maximum amount of compensation for a week in New York is $803.21 a week? I doubt even the most desperate would consider it.
The mechanics the are simple. An award is given to the injured worker for the functional loss of a body part. If there is complete loss, that award would be 100% of the maximum number of weeks that body part would be entitled to, meaning that you would receive your average weekly wage award for that number of weeks. For instance, in New York an arm is worth 312 weeks of compensation. If you were to have a complete loss of an arm the maximum amount of compensation you can receive for that loss would be 312 weeks. If for example, your average weekly wage was $300 per week, you would receive 2/3 of that amount or $200 for 312 weeks or $62,400.
Your physician must make a determination as to the percentage of your loss. This cannot occur until you reach maximum medical improvement. By law the definition of maximum medical improvement cannot take place until at least one year since the injury date or the date of surgery. The time for you to reach maximum medical improvement is also a medical decision that your doctor must make. In order for you to be awarded the schedule loss of use, your doctor must determine that you have reach max medical improvement and then make their opinion known in their C-4 as to the exact amount of your loss. In New York, the number of weeks for each body part that can be awarded is as follows:
- Arm 312 Weeks
- Hand 244 Weeks
- Thumb 75 Weeks
- First Finger 46 Weeks
- Second Figure 30 Weeks
- Third Finger 35 Weeks
- Forefinger 15 Weeks
- Leg 288 Weeks
- Foot 205 Weeks
- Great Toe 38 Weeks
- Other Toes 16 Weeks
- Eye 160 Weeks
If you are injured in New York State, you should be contacting a Workers’ Compensation attorney in your area to assist you in maximizing the amount of compensation indemnity payments you will receive. If you are in the Syracuse area and suffered a work related injury, I would invite you to call my office at 315-451-3040 for a free consultation or visit my office website at http://www.syracuseworkerscomp.com .