How Permanent Impairment Is Calculated in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Published on Apr 2, 2020 at 5:20 pm in Workers Compensation.

Person signing form

Workers in Maryland are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the event they’re injured on the job. There is a system in place that determines the benefits eligibility, which is based on factors like injury severity, wage losses, and job retraining. When injuries are severe and impact a person’s ability to work at all, they may be diagnosed as permanent. It’s important to understand how permanent impairment is calculated in workers’ compensation cases, so the injured party has an idea of what they’ll receive and how they’ll maintain their health in the future.

How Maryland Classifies Permanent Impairment

According to the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, the state has two categories of permanent impairment: permanent total disability and permanent partial disability. In order to receive a classification, you have to reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the state at which recovery stops. Only a physician can make this determination and reaching an MMI varies for every injured worker.

Permanent total disability implies a person is no longer able to work and may never be able to work again. This type of classification is the rarest. Permanent partial disability is more common, as it makes up over 50% of workers’ compensation claims. In a situation where a person is diagnosed with a permanent partial disability, they are able to return to work after reaching their MMI, but not at full capacity. Their job duties or description will need to change to accommodate their impairment.

Determining Workers’ Compensation Benefits

When you apply for workers’ comp benefits in Maryland, it’s important to understand that the insurance company does not have to cover all your losses. In most situations, they are not required to provide compensation for pain and suffering—which refers to the mental and physical stress resulting from your injuries. In addition to that, Maryland has set maximum payments for weekly benefits depending on the degree of injury.

If a person is evaluated and diagnosed with a permanent total disability, they’ll receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage. That is subject to the state’s maximum, which is set at $1080 as of January 1, 2020. The maximum changes January 1 of each calendar year. Examples of total and permanent disabilities include the loss of use of both arms, eyes, feet, hands, legs, or any two of those body parts combined. The benefits are paid as long as the total disability exists, which could potentially last a person’s lifetime.

Calculating benefits for permanent partial impairment is more challenging, as there are different benefits for scheduled and unscheduled losses. Maryland has a schedule of body parts. This is a list that determines how long a person receives benefits based on their injury, which includes the following:

  • Thumb: 100 weeks
  • First finger: 40 weeks
  • Second finger: 35 weeks
  • Third finger: 30 weeks
  • Fourth finger: 25 weeks
  • Big toe: 40 weeks
  • Any other toe: 10 weeks
  • Hand: 250 weeks
  • Arm: 300 weeks
  • Foot: 250 weeks
  • Leg: 300 weeks
  • Eye: 250 weeks
  • Total loss of hearing in one ear: 125 weeks
  • Total loss of hearing in both ears: 250 weeks
  • Perforated nasal septum: 20 weeks

The number of weeks benefits are available can change depending on the percentage of loss the person experienced in that body part. If, for example, a person loses 50% use of their arm, they’ll only be eligible for 150 weeks of benefits. Benefits also change depending on the number of weeks. Awards less than 75 weeks are lower than awards of more than 250 weeks.

If a permanent partial disability is not listed on Maryland’s schedule, there are unscheduled loss awards. The Workers’ Compensation Commission will assign an impairment rating and benefits will be paid for a proportionate number of 500 weeks.

Legal Representation From Belsky & Horowitz, LLC

If you’re in a position where you’ve been injured at work, seeking legal guidance and representation from a Baltimore attorney can ensure you receive the workers’ compensation benefits you need to recover. When you’re facing a permanent impairment, you’ll need even more support to adapt to your new way of life.

At Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, we understand the challenges our clients face. We’re prepared to help you submit your workers’ comp claim and will fight for your rights if you’re not awarded the proper benefits. To learn more about the benefits of working with a lawyer after an on-the-job injury, contact our office today. We’ll set up a case evaluation, review your rights, and help you determine how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances and diagnosis.



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