Monday Workers’ Compensation Q&A: I didn’t lose time from work…

Even if you didn't lose time from work, you can still file a claim.



Joe was working a plumbing job at a construction site. He was tightening a connection to an S pipe when the wrench slipped and so did his wrist. Lucky for him, it was only a fracture. The ER was quiet and empty and two hours Joe was back on site, supervising Mike on pipe installation and making sure the job got done. Sure he would have to do some physical therapy on his wrist but that would happen on the weekends. He wouldn’t lose a day of work as he healed.

As he and Mike finished up their day’s work, Mike mentioned to Joe that he should file a Workers’ Comp claim. “But why?” asked Joe. “I was only gone for two hours and the physical therapy will happen on Saturday. Don’t you have to be out for like weeks to file a claim? Nah… I’m not going to file.”

File, Joe! File!!

You don’t have to miss a day of work in order to file a successful claim. An injured worker, in this case, Joe, can collect benefits for an injury to a hand, foot, leg, arm, finger or toe without missing a single day from work. That is right! Joe and his fractured wrist don’t have to miss any days from work to collect a Workers’ Comp claim, which, by the way, is tax-free money. An award for permanent damage to an injured extremity can be made without any lost time from work.

The bottom line is that ANY injury to an extremity, regardless of lost time at work, should be pursued until the end. Always, always follow up on ‘schedule loss’ awards.

When a worker injures an extremity and finishes treatment that person can make a claim for a ‘schedule loss of use’. Each extremity under the law is assigned a certain number of weeks for a loss of use. The injured worker can collect a certain percentage depending on the injury, regardless of lost time from work. For instance, if Joe earned more then $900 per week, with his fractured wrist he may receive a ‘schedule loss of use’ award, valued at approximately $20,000 without missing a day from work.

Also the failure to file a claim could jeopardize future medical required to help the injury heal. Nobody can predict the future so it always better to file to make sure future rights are protected. As stated in earlier columns (See our past columns under Industries/Health and Safety) none of us, including Joe ever know what the future will bring. So it always pays to file a claim.

What if everything went wrong? What if Joe found himself out of work for five weeks because of the injury and was forced to use his accrued sick/vacation time while out!? Because Joe filed a claim earlier, he would get his time back out of the final settlement. The remainder of the award would then be paid to him in cash.

The problem that often occurs with ‘schedule loss’ cases is that a lot of workers decide not to file a claim because either they a) have returned back to work, or because b) they assume there is no value since no time was lost from work. If Joe had not filed a claim for an injury to an extremity, he’d be passing on receiving financial compensation that the Workers’ Compensation Insurance carrier actually has put aside for workers like Joe.

Furthermore, if Joe’s injury ultimately limited the use of his wrist by 15% and five years down the road his injury got worse, Joe would be able to seek an increase in his benefits.

The bottom line is that ANY injury to an extremity, regardless of lost time at work, should be pursued until the end. Always, always follow up on ‘schedule loss’ awards.

Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
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