Compensation for Permanent Injury
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Compensation for Permanent Injury General Information

If you are injured at work you may be entitled to a payment for permanent injury. To be entitled to a settlement or award for a permanent injury, it is not required that you remain off work, or even that you miss work at all.

Awards and settlements for permanent injury generally fall into two categories: disability or disfigurement. One way to think of this is that disability affects the function of a part of the body, whereas a disfigurement affects the appearance of a part of the body. If an injury causes both, for example a scar due to surgery, you generally cannot recover for both. Most cases involve a disability as that is typically a more important consideration. A disfigurement is usually a scar such as from a burn or a superficial laceration that leaves a scar but does not affect use. Also, only disfigurements in certain areas of the body are compensable.

Categories of Disability Compensation

There are basically three ways that awards for permanent disability are made:

  1. Permanent loss of use of an area of the body (the most common)
  2. Permanent wage loss pursuant to section 8-d-1, also known as wage differential
  3. Permanent total disability

Permanent loss of use of an area of the body

For most types of work injuries, this is the category that applies. Despite what many insurance adjusters might tell you, there is no chart or formula that states you are entitled to a certain amount of compensation. These percentage loss-of-use calculations are typically very negotiable. The exception is in the case of an amputation, although even in that case, awards and settlements for permanent injury are very negotiable.

When you sustain an injury, the first question is what part of the body is injured. Each area of the body is set at a given number of weeks for purposes of these calculations (section 8 c of the Act-each area of the body listed below). It is not an automatic award. The next issue then is what percentage loss of use, or what percentage of that number of weeks, are you entitled to. This number of weeks is then multiplied by 60% of the injured employee’s average weekly wage (AWW as explained above) to generate a number known as the Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rate. (Calculations are based on 2/3 of the AWW for all dates of accident occurring after 2/1/06).

Example: Let us assume that a worker suffers a permanent knee injury, which would be evaluated based on a percentage loss of use of a leg. Let us also assume his average weekly wage (AWW) is $500.00 per week. A leg is set at two hundred (200) weeks. If he is awarded ten percent (10%) loss of use of the leg, he would be entitled to 200 weeks X .10 = 20 weeks of compensation. The 20 weeks is then multiplied by 60% of the $500.00 AWW.

The final calculation then would be:
200 weeks X .10 = 20 weeks
$500.00 (AWW) X .60 = $300.00 (PPD rate)
20 weeks X $300.00 PPD rate = $6000.00 award for permanent injury

Illinois Workers Compensation Act section 8 (c) maximum numbers of weeks: (Numbers in parentheses applies only to those accidents occurring after February 1, 2006).

  • Disfigurement 150 weeks (162)
  • Thumb 70 weeks (76)
  • First or index finger 40 weeks (43)
  • Second or middle finger 35 weeks (38)
  • Third or ring finger 25 weeks (27)
  • Fourth or little finger 20 weeks (22)
  • Great toe 35 weeks (38)
  • Each toe other than great toe 12 weeks (13)
  • Hand 190 weeks (205)
  • Arm 235 weeks (253) special rules in the event of amputation
  • Foot 155 weeks (167)
  • Leg 200 weeks (215)
  • Eye 150 weeks (162) Enucleation add 10 weeks (11)
  • Hearing Loss: One ear 50 weeks; (54) Both Ears 200 weeks (215)
  • Testicle 50 weeks (54); Both Testicles 150 weeks (162)

Wage Differential

Section 8 (d) (1) of the Workers Compensation Act may apply in some cases. Most frequently, it is seen when a serious injury leaves an injured worker with permanent restrictions on their work activities. When this occurs, a worker may be placed in a job earning less money, either with the same employer or a new employer. If this occurs, the value of a wage differential may be far more valuable than a specific loss as explained in the preceding section. This is a complex area of the law and ties in closely with an injured workers right to vocational rehabilitation.

Permanent Total Disability

As the name implies, this is the type of disability award found when an injury leaves a worker permanently and totally disabled. If that occurs, the worker is to be paid two-thirds (2/3) of his average weekly wage (AWW), subject to cost of living increases. As with wage differentials, this is a complex area of the law and a lay person is usually ill-equipped to represent themselves in the face of such serious injuries.

Death Benefits

If a work accident results in the death of a worker benefits will be due to those that the worker supported such as spouse and children. This is generally two-thirds (2/3) of the workers average weekly wage (AWW), subject to statutory maximums and minimums. The amount paid in total is capped at the greater of $250,000 or twenty years ($500,000 or 25 years for accidents occurring after 2/1/06). The workers estate is also entitled to burial expenses in the amount of $4200.00 ($8000.00 for accidents occurring after 2/1/06).

Caution: The amount that you are entitled to for a permanent injury is almost always negotiable. Oftentimes an insurance adjuster will phrase their offer to make it seem as if the Workers Compensation Commission decided your claim or that there is a magical chart that dictates what you are entitled to. This is rarely the case.

This content is intended to provide general information and guidance only. You should see an attorney and obtain advice if you have questions or concerns regarding workers compensation. Most lawyers will not charge any fee for an initial consultation to review your case. Only by asking questions and obtaining answers will you obtain the rights and benefits to which you are entitled.