Determining benefits for a claimant in a workers’ compensation case may seem like an impossible task, however it is something that must be done nearly every day. Every case is different, which means you won’t know the value of your court award until the case is finalized. That being said, there are a few common factors that are considered when determining the value of a workers’ compensation case.
How the Parties Value the Case
Valuing a case means making a guess as to what the claimant (injured employee) may receive in benefits, while also considering what the defendant (employer) would ultimately be willing to pay. It also means determining the amount each side is willing to pay in order to settle the case before trial.
New York workers’ compensation settlements depend on several factors; the degree of disability, extent of injuries, and whether the claimant can return to their previous position.
Degree of Disability
Degree of disability explains, in percentages, how disabled you are from a medical perspective. This number plays a large factor in determining how much money you will receive every week for your work place injury.
A person with a new or serious injury or who is recovering from a recent surgery is considered 100% disabled. When you are first injured you may be 100% disabled, however as time progresses you may begin to heal, causing your degree of disability to decrease. Eventually, a doctor may determine that you have reached “Maximum Medical Improvement”, meaning you aren’t going to get any better.
Degree of Disability is determined by a doctor using medical judgement, combined with physical exams and diagnostic tests.
Extent of Injuries
Suppose a worker falls and hurts his back while on the job. Diagnostic tests are not performed during the initial visit to the doctor, only a physical one. Over time, the diagnosed lumbar sprain gets worse, causing the worker more pain and suffering. The worker returns to the doctor who orders an MRI. The MRI results show that the worker has suffered a disc protrusion, which requires surgery and additional medical treatment.
To receive full compensation for the disc protrusion, the injured worker must prove the extent of their injury and that it is a result of the initial workplace injury.
Returning to Work
If a person is able to return to full duty at work, the benefits received may be less than someone who can’t return to their previous position. For example, a cable installation technician with a low back injury receives $59,000 and can return to full duty at work. However, a construction worker with an injury to their left hip and lower back receives $109,000 and cannot return to their job.
Working with a Lawyer
As with any workers’ compensation case, we recommend you work with an experienced lawyer. The lawyers at Erwin, McCane, & Daly have served the Capital Region community for over two decades and have experience representing clients whose cases vary in complexity. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.