A common work related injury involves trauma to the shoulder. Shoulder injuries can involve muscle bruises, broken bones, rotator cuff tears, or dislocations. Some are treated surgical, others conservatively.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Guidelines provide specific directives regarding assessing permanency in these types of cases. Usually, a finding of permanency can be made one-year post surgery or one-year post injury if there is no surgery performed. The finding of permanency is most frequently categorized as a schedule loss of use award for the entire arm.
A 100% loss of use of the entire arm would translate into 312 weeks of compensation. It is extremely rare for a total loss of use to be found. 100% loss of use can only be assessed where there has been an amputation from the elbow to the shoulder.
Other types of injuries qualify for lesser schedule loss of use awards. For example, an injury resulting in a very mild defect of extension in the shoulder joint will equal between 7 ½% and 10% schedule loss of use of the entire arm.
A more significant schedule loss of use will usually apply to a total shoulder replacement procedure where the final schedule will usually range from 60% to 66 2/3% loss of the arm.
The determination regarding schedule loss of use in a shoulder injury is made by a Law Judge after considering the medical opinions that were offered by the claimant and the insurance carrier. Determining a schedule loss of use is not an exact science and it is entirely possible for different physicians to find different percentage losses based upon their examinations.
Keep in mind that in calculating the amount of money payable for a schedule loss of use award, prior lost wage payments must be deducted from the award.
A permanency determination is usually the most crucial finding in your case and it is very important that the proper percentage be assessed. In some cases, a difference of a few percentage points on a schedule loss of use award can translate into thousands of dollars.