December 31, 2018
Some work-related injuries not only affect a person’s immediate ability to work, but also cause permanent damage to some part of their body. Even if they can return to their previous job after a time off for treatment, these workers may also be entitled to further medical or wage compensation for their permanent disability, no matter how small.
The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board uses a complicated system of degrees and wage calculators to determine how much these permanent partial injuries (PPIs) are worth to the injured worker. Understanding what you may be owed from your employer can help you reach a fair settlement on your workers’ compensation claim.
Eligible Impairments for PPI Payments
According to the Guide to Indiana Worker’s Compensation, workers are only eligible for PPI when their workplace injury results in an impairment that lasts beyond their maximum medical improvement (MMI).
MMI is a tricky phrase that simply means “as good as you can get.” Workers reach MMI when their condition has improved to its fullest extent in response to treatment; no further treatment would help the injured worker recover more of their previous abilities before the accident.
If the worker still experiences the loss of function of any body part as a result of their workplace injury after MMI, they may be eligible for continued compensation through PPI.
Calculating PPI Payment Amounts
In most cases, the treating physician will assess the degree to which the worker is permanently injured and provide a report based on Indiana state guidelines. According to the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board, PPIs are assessed using a rating system built on degrees that takes two factors into consideration: the part of the body affected by the disability and the amount of impairment.
Amount of Impairment
The treating physician is important to PPI determination because he or she will decide just how impaired a person is after reaching MMI. The doctor will assign a percentage of impairment to the injured body part, which will be used to calculate the degrees of impairment, determining how much money an injured worker may receive from their employer.
Body Part Affected by Impairment
The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board recognizes that some body parts are more critical than others; someone who can no longer use their left thumb as well as they used to isn’t as affected as someone who lost their arm.
Under Indiana Worker’s Compensation laws, parts of the body are assigned degrees outright: the whole arm is given 50 degrees, whereas the loss of function in one thumb is only worth 12. The degrees system is based on a 100-degree scale, with 100 referring to impairments that affect the entire body.
Once you know both the degree value of the affected body part (or system) and the percentage it’s impaired, simply multiply the numbers together to end with the total degrees of PPI. For example, the loss of use of the entire right arm would calculate to 100% x 50, or 50 degrees. The partial loss of the use of a foot may be worth 50% x 30, or 15 degrees.
Indiana establishes 3 tiers of compensation for PPI: 1-35 degrees, 36-50 degrees, and over 51 degrees. As you may guess, higher degrees result in greater compensation and may be paid in either a lump sum or in installments, depending on the agreement.
Hire an Attorney to Oversee Your Claim
The Indiana Guide to Worker’s Compensation recommends workers who reach MMI to look over their settlement offer carefully to determine whether their compensation is fair to their permanent injury. One way to offer even greater protection of your health and rights is to hire a qualified workers’ compensation attorney to represent you in these critical negotiations.
Hensley Legal Group’s workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help. We can help oversee your case, confirm the severity of your injuries, and prevent your employer’s insurance agency from settling for too little. Call us or contact us online today to get started with a free conversation.