On the surface, many workers’ compensation claims seem very straightforward, but in actuality, these claims are quite complex. If you cannot return to your job after a work-related injury, you can be entitled to a very substantial wage differential award.
A wage differential calculation requires more than a calendar and a calculator. We need to know whether a wage differential award is right for you, given your age, pre-injury salary, education, and future job prospects.
For instance, one client came to us after his former attorney had tried to get him to settle his knee injury for a percentage of a knee, for a total settlement $45,000. We were able to change directions and settle his case as a wage differential award, for a grand total of $525,000.00! We were able to show a significant earnings decrease that would affect him for the rest of his life, as well as provide him with extensive medical benefits.
Most workers’ compensation claims involve temporary partial or total disabilities. These victims cannot return to work until the doctor clears them to do so. TTD recipients cannot work at all, and TPD recipients are often in lower-paying light duty assignments. Typically, TTD recipients receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage (AWW), measured over the 52 weeks preceding the injury, and TPD recipients receive two-thirds of the difference between their old and new salaries, for the duration of their disabilities.
To be fair to the worker, the AWW calculation must include all sources of income, including that from other jobs that the employer was aware of. Otherwise, the victim’s family is left holding the bag. That situation is unacceptable to you and to us.
Sometimes, the victim has worked at the same job for many years. But most people change jobs frequently. Typically, higher salaries prompt these changes. So, if a victim works from January through November at one job, gets a higher-paying job in December, and is immediately injured, a yearly calculation will be off. The AWW should be calculated based on the current salary.
Other times, the current salary is not a sufficient guide. Assume a football player gets hurt in training camp. Once the regular season starts, that player’s salary rises significantly. The wage differential benefits should account for that salary increase. Otherwise, the compensation is simply not fair.
Sometimes, the aforementioned TTD/TPD categories overlap. Many victims are disabled for a few weeks or months. Then, as their recovery progresses, they are able to accept light duty assignments. So, it is often necessary to re-evaluate the wage differential, and not just because of salary increases.
Some victims sustain permanent disabilities. These disabilities may be total, but much more often, they are partial. For example, a chemical spill may cause a worker to lose an eye. The loss of an eye or another body part is usually a scheduled injury, so workers’ compensation pays a predetermined amount.
Most cases are much more subjective. Assume this unfortunate victim is partially blinded in one eye. In that situation, workers’ compensation pays a set amount based on things like:
A university professor who loses a leg is probably not “disabled” to the same extent as a coal miner who loses a leg.
The proper wage differential calculation makes a big difference for your family. We know how to examine your case and get you the maximum wage differential benefit you are entitled to. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Chicago, contact Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd. Home. We also offer hospital visits for lawyer meetings.
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