What is my case worth?
There is a lot of power in knowing the value of your workers' compensation claim but answering that question can appear convoluted and time-consuming. The good news is, it doesn't have to be. Here are some steps you can take to figure out the value of your case.
What do we mean by "value"?When most injured workers ask about the value of their case, they want to know what sort of settlement they might see at the end of their claim. However, there are other ways in which a worker may receive value from their claim. For instance, many workers are paid wages for their time off work or are paid to go to school and learn a new skill. Below we will only be talking about the most common meaning of value, a settlement at the end of your claim. These settlement are most commonly referred to as a Permanent Partial Disability payment or PPD.
Know the relevant information.The value of your PPD is based on just 2 pieces of information: 1) the date of your injury and 2) your disability rating. Unlike personal injury cases, the pain and suffering you have gone through is not considered in determining the value of your case. Nor is there any opportunity to obtain "punitive damages" to punish a negligent employer.
In most cases the date of injury is not contested. If you can't remember the specific date, the Department of Labor and Industries can provide it to you. Older claims are paid at a lower rate than newer claims because every year the payment rates increase with inflation. Disability rating is a little more complex.
What is a disability rating and how do I know what mine is?Disability rating (often referred to as your "permanent impairment" or "impairment rating") is a measure of the physical or mental limitations you have as a result of your workplace injury or disease. It is based almost exclusively on measurable changes in your physical state without regard to pain. For instance, if you used to be able to lift your arm above your head and can now only lift it to your shoulder, that's an impairment. Similarly if you have an amputated pinky finger, or you have trouble focusing at work because of depression, those are impairments.
Your permanent impairment has to be determined by a doctor. Often, the Department of Labor and Industries and employers try to force injured worker's to be rated by employer friendly doctors in an effort to minimize costs. It's usually best if you can avoid that and have a treating doctor you trust perform the rating examination for you. After the rating examination the doctor will give you a number, either a percentage of impairment or a category your impairment falls into. That number is the other half of the settlement value equation.
Putting the two together to calculate value.Once you have the date of injury and your disability rating finding out the value of your case is easy. On the Department of Labor and Industries website you can find their "Permanent Partial Disability Award Schedules for ever year. For category ratings, find the appropriate Schedule for the date of your injury and look for the dollar value next to your disability rating. For percentage ratings do the same thing, but multiply the dollar value by the percentage of your disability. I have provided a link to the Department's Schedules in the links below.
If you want an easier way to find the value of your case you can use the "PPD Calculator" on the front page of the other website website included in the links below.