Settlement Chart for Partial Permanent Disability Awards
In the realm of New Jersey workers’ compensation, a “Settlement Chart” is a handy tool used to figure out how much money an injured worker might receive if they have a permanent disability, but can still work in some way. Let’s break down how this chart works, step-by-step, with a clear example.
What is a Partial Permanent Disability?
Before diving into the chart, it’s essential to know that a partial permanent disability means a worker has a loss of function of an injured body part but doesn’t entirely stop them from working. Maybe a worker lost a finger or has ongoing back pain. They’re still able to work, but not like before the injury. There is a residual loss of function in spite of all reasonable medical care received.
Using the Settlement Chart
The Settlement Chart lists different body parts and conditions, along with a number of weeks assigned to each. If a body part is 100% disabled, it refers to the total loss or non-use of that part.
Degree of Disability
This represents how much of that body part is disabled. If an arm is worth 200 weeks on the chart, and a worker’s arm is 50% disabled, they’re compensated for 100 weeks (50% of 200 weeks).
You’d multiply the weeks from step 3 by the worker’s weekly compensation rate. But, this is where it gets a bit intricate.
Each year, New Jersey adjusts the minimum and maximum amounts a worker can receive weekly. So, while you multiply your rate by the number of weeks, the final weekly amount can’t go below the state’s set minimum or exceed the maximum.
Imagine Sarah, a chef. A kitchen accident resulted in her hand being 30% disabled. The Settlement Chart equates a hand to 150 weeks. So, 30% of 150 weeks is 45 weeks. If Sarah’s weekly rate is $500, her award amounts to $22,500 (45 weeks x $500). However, if the state’s maximum is $475, then despite her rate, she’d get a maximum of $21,375 (45 weeks x $475).
The Settlement Chart and the state’s min/max rates can change. Always refer to the version applicable to your case and consider advice from a New Jersey workers’ compensation professional. The chart for 2023 reflects the schedule of compensation for injuries arising in that year.
It’s important to note that the Settlement Chart is updated annually to reflect changes in compensation rates and considerations for specific injuries. However, it’s not just about using the latest chart. The applicable chart is determined by the date of your injury.
For example, if you suffered an injury in 2021, the 2021 Settlement Chart would be used to determine your benefits, even if you’re finalizing your claim in 2023. This ensures that your compensation is based on the standards and rates set during the year of your injury.
The Settlement Chart, along with the state-adjusted rates, ensures that workers get fair compensation that aligns with the state’s standards. While it might seem complex, remember it’s designed to aid workers like Sarah. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, make sure you understand the process or get in touch with a qualified attorney who can help. Your well-being, both health and financial, is paramount.
Which Settlement Chart Applies to Occupational Exposure Cases?
Occupational exposure cases introduce an added layer of complexity. In these instances, injuries or illnesses may develop over time due to prolonged exposure to certain work conditions. The applicable Settlement Chart, in these cases, is closely tied to the manifestation of the disease and the worker’s ability to establish a link between the disease and their working conditions.
Manifestation of the Disease
The Settlement Chart year is determined based on the year when the disease becomes evident or is diagnosed by a medical professional. This is the “manifestation date,” and it’s a critical factor in ensuring that compensation rates align with the actual year when the disease became apparent.
Additionally, the worker must establish a connection between the disease and their working conditions. This linkup is essential for determining the legitimacy of the occupational exposure claim. The ability to demonstrate a direct correlation between the work environment and the disease is a crucial step in securing rightful compensation.
For example, if a worker develops a respiratory illness due to prolonged exposure to hazardous substances at their workplace, the manifestation date of the illness and the ability to establish a clear link to the working conditions become the determining factors for the applicable Settlement Chart year.