Friday, January 23, 2009

Scheduled Injuries the latest way to figure benefits

Anyone who hurts their arm, leg, hand, foot at work is often shocked to learn that in Colorado there is a separate way to figure their permanent impairment benefits. So unless it can be considered a whole person injury by a judge or it results in a possible claim for permanent total disability Colorado law says it is paid by using the "schedule" for the injury. The problem is that these injuries are treated as not as important so they are paid lower benefits. At least that is how Colorado law makes it out. It is ironic but some people lose their trade and have a horrific drop in earning ability but insurers pay following the schedule. Roughly for every one percent of your arm or leg that you are permanently impaired means $500 for you. So ten percent of your arm is about $5000.00. You can figure this out yourself by looking at the chart here. You multiply the doctors rating by the number of weeks in the chart by the amount shown based on your date of injury. I assure you if your entire arm were to be amputated or useless the permanent benefit would be under $52000.00. Again there are exceptions. Also much more can be considered in a settlement but insurers relish the low payouts. I've said this before...Colorado should abolish this terrible way of calculating a permanent injury. Imagine a carpenter who can no longer grasp a hammer and do his job. His earnings loss over his lifetime could be enormous even if he goes to work in another field. Or, consider the fellow who plays a musical instrument and makes good money but loses his trade because of the work injury. The problem with the schedule is that it completely disregards your pre-injury earnings and pays a flat amount even when you lose your trade/occupation. I can say if the injury affects both arms or hands or both legs we do seek to make it a bigger case whenever possible. There are variables where even a small injury can mean a major claim but this is not true for everyone. In contrast if you hurt your back it can mean much higher benefits because the permanent figures do use your wage rate and your age. These variables often make the calculation much higher.

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