In a previous essay I wrote about Workers’ Compensation (WC) permanent injury awards:
“Permanent injuries to joints of the body, vision, and hearing, qualify for “schedule loss of use” awards regardless of whether a person is working or not“, I explained.
As a follow up to that, I can tell you that it has become very difficult, in the world of Workers’ Comp in New York, to receive not a permanent injury award, but to receive weekly benefits while out of work!
This sounds counterintuitive: Isn’t Workers’ Compensation primarily designed to pay people while they are out of work? Well, in the current climate, it’s not so easy to obtain a proper weekly payment while out on comp (called a “lost time award”.)
First, understand that eventually it becomes a choice, because ultimately you do not receive both types of awards. The WC law says you can’t get a permanent injury award and ADD it to your lost time award..at the end of the case you have to choose one or the other!!!
For an experienced Workers’ Comp lawyer in New York, then, this becomes an analysis of which one is better for the client.
Here’s a comparison of the two types of awards:
(Note: Permanent injury awards are called “SLU’s”)
Lost time: Paid only if injured worker (IW) is under medical treatment.
SLU: Paid only if the IW is finished with treatment.
Lost time: Paid most often at a lower than maximum rate.
SLU: Paid at the maximum rate.
Lost time: Injured worker can be required to look for work (job search) to qualify.
SLU: No requirement to look for work.
Lost time: Paid in bi-weekly installments.
SLU: Paid in one lump sum.
SLU: Paid one year from date of accident
Lost time: Paid after one week of being out of work.
As you can see, a SLU award has huge advantages over lost time awards. The problem is, when someone has suddenly stopped working and is in need of income to survive, it is unimportant to that person that one year later, they may receive a lump sum that will cover all of their lost wages. That person needs income NOW.
That is why we as WC attorneys still try as hard as we can to get our clients “lost time bi-weekly checks” while they are out. Later on, we worry about whether they qualify for an SLU.
More complicated than you thought? That’s why an experienced WC attorney is essential in almost every WC case.