If you read our last blog on Worker’s Compensation, we’re sure that you have an inkling that the meaning of the term “Non-scheduled Injury” in the legal sense is vastly different from the everyday sense. But, as you know, and as only Mandy Patinkin in “The Princess Bride” could put it, words do not necessarily “mean what you think it means” (mandatory movie clip) when it comes to the law.
In short, Non-Scheduled Injuries (sometimes referred to as “Unscheduled”) are those injuries that do not appear in the statutory schedule found in the Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation Act. Non-scheduled Injuries affect areas such as the neck, back, torso, head (except for vision or hearing), the whole body (i.e. the heart or lungs), and the mind. You can basically think of Non-scheduled Injuries as those that impact the “really really important” areas of your body while Scheduled Injuries tend to impact your limbs.
In terms of the ability to collect permanent partial disability in the event of a Non-scheduled Injury, the percentage assigned by a treating physician as compared to permanent total disability is then multiplied by a theoretical maximum of 1,000 weeks. By comparison, the largest number of weeks available for a Scheduled Injury is 500 weeks.
More importantly, in the event of a Non-scheduled Injury, an injured worker can obtain benefits for a loss of earning capacity benefits in excess of functional disability if permanent restrictions preclude a return to an injured worker’s former earning level. Loss of earning capacity benefits are intended to provide payment for lost wages over the entirety of an injured workers career.
Loss of earning capacity claims can, and often do, significantly increase the value of a Worker’s Compensation claim. For example, if a construction worker with a high school education injures her back while working, she may only receive a 5% permanent partial disability rating. That claim would be worth approximately $18,000. Now, if that same worker has restrictions that prohibit her from lifting more than 30 pounds for the rest of her career, a vocational expert may assign a loss of earning capacity of 25%. The loss of earning capacity claim alone in that case would be worth approximately $90,500. That’s on top of the $18,000.
The difference in the value of Scheduled and Non-scheduled injuries cannot be emphasized enough.
Have questions about Worker’s Compensation? Dealing with a Worker’s Compensation issue? Curious if words mean what you think they mean? Reach out to an experienced attorney at Walcheske & Luzi, LLC. Feeling shy? Submit a contact form. Spoiler: you will still have to talk to us at some point.