When you have been hurt in a work accident in New Jersey, you have a right to file a claim for benefits through the state’s workers’ compensation system. As a general rule, if your claim is approved, you will be awarded benefits based on your average weekly wage and the extent of your injury. However, if you suffer an injury to one of your extremities, such as an arm, leg, finger or toe, you can also receive a cash payment if the injury is deemed permanent. These payments are referred to as scheduled loss of use, or SLU, awards.

As defined in the New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, “extremities” include all body parts other than your head, neck or back. Accordingly, you can pursue a scheduled loss of use award if you sustain a permanent injury to your arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet or toes.

Here’s how to seek a scheduled loss of use award. You’ll have to wait until your case is finalized (usually around a year after your accident). Once you have reached what is known as “maximum medical improvement,” you can see your doctor and request a report to document the degree to which your injury is permanent. Once your doctor has determined the percentage of permanent injury, you look at the statutory schedule for your type of loss and apply the percentage to determine the amount to which you are entitled.

It’s important to understand that, once the award is determined, your workers’ compensation case is generally closed. If your injury becomes worse, though, you can always seek to reopen your claim. So, for example, you may have 50% use of your hand now and receive a scheduled loss of use award based on that percentage. If your injury progresses and you lose permanent use of the entire hand, you can reopen your case and seek an additional amount.

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At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured workers throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.