There are various methods that may be used to calculate permanent partial disability benefits, depending on the extent and location of the injury as well as the state of residence. The most common method is to consult a "schedule of losses," a body part list denoting the number of weeks of compensation payable to a worker with a particular injury. Each state may use a different schedule of losses, but a single schedule is used across the whole state.
The schedule of losses lists the number of weeks of compensation available for a particular injury. A week of compensation is equal to two-thirds of the worker's average weekly income at the time of the injury, capped at 55 percent of the average weekly wage in that state. If the injury results in only partial loss of a body part, the compensation is reduced accordingly. For example, a worker who loses half of the use of his hand receives 50 percent of the listed compensation. The schedule of losses is only used if the injury is easily quantifiable. For more complex injuries, such as those to the spinal cord or internal organs, one of several different approaches are used, depending on the state.
These "unscheduled losses" are generally approached in terms of impairment, loss of earning capacity, wage loss, or a combination of any of the three. Because the compensation for permanent injuries varies widely from state to state, it is important to seek legal advice when faced with a permanent partial disability worker's compensation case.