WHAT “SCHEDULED INJURY?” I DIDN’T PLAN ON BEING INJURED!
Regardless of whether you’ve ever heard the term “Scheduled Injury,” particularly if you were the one who suffered that injury, we’re confident that you did not look at your calendar and decide that a certain date was juuuuuuuust right to pencil in a workplace injury. So why are workplace injuries sometimes referred to as “scheduled”?
In practice, Wisconsin’s Workers’ Compensation system recognizes two types of injuries: “scheduled” and “non-scheduled”. Yes, in our next blog post we’ll discuss the more complex “non-scheduled” injuries. For now, let’s not worry ourselves with such things and start slow with “scheduled” injuries.
When using the term “scheduled” in the Workers’ Compensation context, professionals “in the biz” know that the Workers’ Compensation Act actually lists a schedule of weeks that each injury is “worth” in terms of a permanent partial disability settlement.
For example, according to Wisconsin law, an arm is worth (at most) 500 weeks, while (look away pinky toe aficionados) your little toe at the distal joint is worth (at most) 4 weeks. If you were to suffer a workplace injury where both your entire left arm and right little toe at the distal joint were amputated, you would be eligible for a total of 504 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits.
Of course, it is very rare for a workplace injury to result in an amputation of a full arm. In order to assess what percentage of the schedule you will receive for an injury; your treating physician must assign a permanent partial disability rating. If our old friend Worker Joe tore a muscle in his shoulder and had surgery, his physician might issue a 10% permanent partial disability rating. In this instance, Joe would be compensated with 50 weeks of permanent partial disability (10% of 500 weeks).
The schedule (which is listed in full at Wis. Stat. § 102.52 to 102.555) basically accounts for injuries to your limbs (arms and legs), vision, and hearing. If you look at these statutes, you may notice that the number of scheduled weeks that an injury might be worth decrease as you work your way down a limb. For example, an injury at the hip joint is worth 500 weeks, but an injury to an ankle is worth 250 weeks.
Importantly, there is no additional compensation for these injuries due to a loss of earning capacity. Loss of earning capacity only applies to injuries to the neck or torso (including the back), the head, the whole body (i.e. heart or lung conditions), and the mind – or (spoiler alert) non-scheduled injuries.
Next time, we will discuss non-scheduled injuries and how they differ from scheduled injuries. In the meantime, if you or a loved one or one of your employees are considering penciling-in that scheduled injury, be sure to reach out to us.