I have previously received partial permanent awards for back and shoulder injuries. I then injured my hand in a work-related accident and my case is ready to settle. Are hand injuries compensated in the same manner as back and shoulder injuries?
The short answer is no.
In New Jersey, not all body parts are “worth” the same amount in terms of partial permanent disability. We have a system which is basically divided into two groups of injuries: “scheduled” and “non-scheduled.”
Scheduled injuries include hands, arms, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes and ears. Each scheduled part is assigned a certain number of weeks of disability under our Worker’s Compensation statute.
Non-scheduled parts include the spine, neck, shoulders, nervous system, etc. These injuries are awarded based on 600 weeks, and are described in terms of partial total disability. For example, the hand is assigned 245 weeks. An award of 10% of the hand is 24.5 weeks, paid in a given year’s rate of disability. The award would be called “10% disability of the statutory hand.” In contrast, an award of 10% for a low back injury is 60 weeks. It would be called “10% partial permanent disability for an injury to the low back.”
There are exceptions to this. One major exception is when two “major” scheduled members are involved, such as hands or legs. In that situation, the award of disability will usually be expressed in terms of partial total.
In any situation, in order to ensure you are awarded the maximum benefit the law provides, you should always consult an experienced worker’s compensation attorney. The workers’ compensation attorneys here at Stark & Stark are ready to answer your questions and provide quality representation.