If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to an award of money for lost wages

When you have been injured on the job, In addition to lost wages, you may be entitled to a schedule loss of use award, also known as an “SLU.”  An SLU is an amount of money that is awarded to compensate a worker for a permanent disability or “loss of use” of the injured body part.

Understanding a Schedule Loss of Use Award

Imagine this hypothetical situation.  A worker is employed as a concrete mason and is working with concrete being pumped from a concrete truck to a construction site.  While the concrete is pumping, a hose ruptures and concrete flies out of the ruptured hose striking the worker in the face.  (Concrete is highly basic and can cause severe burns when it comes in contact with the skin or eyes).  The worker sustains injury to his right eye.

The worker files a workers’ compensation claim.  He receives payments from his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier for wages he did not earn while unable to work due to the injury.

In addition to the compensation received for these costs, the worker may be entitled to a schedule loss of use award (“SLU”) if he has permanent disability resulting from the injury to his right eye.  If the worker cannot use the body part fully just as he did prior to the injury, or there is a loss of use of the body part, the SLU is meant to compensate the worker for that loss of use or inability to use the body part in the future as he had used it prior to the injury.

Process to Obtain SLU Award

In order to obtain an SLU award, a doctor will have to determine and say that two criteria have been met:

  1. That the worker has permanent disability as a result of the injury; and
  2. That the worker has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).

The doctor determines, based on his or her medical judgment, that MMI has been reached when (1) the worker has recovered from the injury to the greatest extent medically anticipated or expected, and (2) no further improvement with regard to the worker’s injury and condition is expected or anticipated.

Guidelines Used to Determine SLU Amount

New York has established an extensive set of guidelines to be used to calculate the amount of an SLU award.  The calculation of the award is based upon the body part injured and the severity of the injury.

An SLU award may be obtained for injuries to the following body parts:

  • Eyes;
  • Ears; (for hearing loss only)
  • Face (for scarring)
  • Upper extremities (fingers, hands, wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders); and
  • Lower extremities (toes, ankles, feet, knees, legs, hips).

Generally, the amount of the award is based upon the number of benefit weeks to which the worker is entitled, the severity of the disability, and the amount of wages earned at the time of the injury.  In determining whether a worker has reached MMI, the doctor will state the disability in terms of a percentage, which will be used in conjunction with the number of weeks allowed.  For example if a doctor finds that you suffered a 10 percent loss of use then under current law you would be entitled to 31.2 weeks of payments.  These payments are ALWAYS made at the Total Rate of compensation under the law.

Speak with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Now

If you have been injured on the job, and particularly if you think you have suffered permanent impairment as a result of your injury, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.  The attorney’s at the Battiloro Law Group are here to help you through this difficult time and are able to assess your case to determine whether you are entitled to an SLU award.  Because the guidelines for determining SLU awards are so complex, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is necessary to ensure that you obtain the full award to which you are entitled.  The Battiloro Law Group has the experience needed to fully represent you with your claim, and to ensure that you receive the full amount of every benefit you deserve.