Workplace injuries can be minor and some can be severe. Depending on the line of work and the type of equipment used, some occupations tend to be more hazardous or to result in more serious, even catastrophic, injuries. One of the worst examples of a serious workplace injury is when someone loses a limb while operating heavy machinery. When a workplace injury results in the loss of use of a limb, or loss of the limb entirely, there is a special type of recovery available, known as “schedule loss of use award.”
A schedule loss of use applies to Worker’s Compensation
A schedule loss of use (or SLU) is a term commonly used in Worker’s Compensation claims. Worker’s Compensation covers injuries that can be said to have arisen “out of the course of employment.” Essentially, that means it covers any injury that occurred while you were performing the duties of your job or, in the case of a disease or illness, which was caused by conditions at your workplace.
How is the compensation for loss of use determined?
An award for schedule loss of use is for the functional loss of a body part. When there is a complete loss, such as the loss of the limb entirely or complete loss of its use, as in paralysis, the award would be 100% of the maximum number of weeks to which that particular body part is entitled. What does that mean? There is actually a predetermined schedule of the number of weeks corresponding to each particular body part. How long you will be entitled to benefits depends on the seriousness of the injury.
Loss of Use Schedule
Like private employees, and employees of state governments and municipalities, federal workers are covered by worker’s compensation under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA). FECA has a loss of use schedule broken down into 20 different body parts and listing how many weeks of benefits may be paid for each of those body parts. Here are a few examples:
- Arm is worth 312 weeks
- Leg is worth 288 weeks
- Hand is worth 244 weeks
- Foot is worth 205 weeks
- Thumb is worth 75 weeks
- First finger is worth 46 weeks
Most if not all states use similar schedules, including the same list of limbs and body parts, as FECA. However, there are typically some differences depending on the state where you live. For instance, the Missouri statute breaks down compensation based on the portion of each limb that is lost. For example, the loss of an arm at the shoulder is worth 232 weeks of compensation; whereas the loss of an arm at the elbow joint is only worth 210 weeks. Arkansas’ statute is very similar to Missouri. Consult with a worker’s compensation attorney in your state to determine the schedule that applies to your injury.
How much of your salary are you entitled to?
First, the actual number of weeks to which you are entitled is based on the percentage of loss. In other words, if you are permanently disabled or loss your entire limb, you receive compensation for all of the weeks listed in the schedule. However, if you only lost 25% use of your arm, then you would receive compensation for only 25% of the number of weeks. Under the federal schedule, employees are entitled to 66 2/3% of your monthly salary or wages. It is the same in both Missouri and Arkansas.
If you have questions regarding disability awards, or any other workers’ compensation issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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