One of the biggest concerns of Arizona injured workers is how they are going to make ends meet after a workplace injury. More often than not claimants are surprised to find out that there are time limits on how long you can receive workers' compensation benefits for certain injured body parts.
First, the rate of compensation is determined. This is done by putting you into one of the following three categories:
- You can return performing the job you had at the date of injury;
- You had a complete amputation or complete loss of use of a body part; or
- There is a part of the job you had at the time of your injury that you can no longer do because of your injury.
If you can return to the job and all the job duties you had at the date of your injury, your rate of pay will be 50% of your Average Monthly Wage.
If you had a complete amputation or complete loss of an extremity, even if you can return to your date of injury job duties, your rate of pay will be 55% of your Average Monthly Wage.
If you cannot return to your date of injury job, or there are some duties that you can no longer perform, your rate of pay will be 75% of your Average Monthly Wage.
Here's where it starts to get really scary: Once the rate of your compensation has been determined, you can only receive that amount (or more likely, a portion of that amount) for the number of months outlined by the law.
Examples: If you lose your thumb, you cannot received compensation for more than 15 months; lose a foot you can't receive compensation for longer than 40 months; the loss of sight in one eye limits you to, at best, 30 months of compensation. The limits are staggering. Other body parts with time limits include, a leg, knee, ankle, arm, hand, wrist, elbow, teeth, hearing, and scarring on the face.
Please keep in mind, these are the maximum lengths of time you can receive compensation. Most people do not lose 100% of the function in these body parts. If you do not lose 100% of the function, you receive an impairment rating (a doctor says what percent of use of a body part you have lost). The impairment rating is multiplied by the number of months outlined in the statute.
Have a knee injury? The longest period for which you can receive compensation is 50 months. If, after surgery, you receive an impairment rating of 12%. You would only be eligible to receive benefits for 6 months (50 x.12).
This raises a lot of questions - and panic - right? What if I had three fingers amputated? Does it matter if the finger I lost is on the hand that I write with? Seriously, only 40 months for a foot? What if my injury was to my hearing in both ears? What if I had a prior work injury? What if I can't go back to my old job? What if my co-worker knocked my teeth out? What if I can't lift things with my arm like I used to?
This is where Fendon Law Firm can help. Not only can we answer all of the questions that you may have, but we may also be able to help you find a way around these limits. In certain situations we may be able to help you take your case from one where there are limits on the length of time you can receive compensation, to one where you are eligible for lifetime benefits. Give us a call for a free consultation, get some questions answered, and hopefully we will be able to reduce some of your stress while increasing your compensation.