Injury to the arm and hand may entitle you to “permanent partial disability benefits.” These are benefits that are paid based upon the severity of your injury and, in some cases, based upon how it affects your earnings in the future. This is the benefit that is typically discussed for purposes of a settlement of a Workers' Compensation claim.
The Workers' Compensation system provides that benefits are to be paid if you have a permanent injury. The amount you are entitled to receive depends on what part of your body was injured in the work incident. If the injury is to the arm and hand, it is an amount based on your loss of use of that body part. This is typically calculated based upon an impairment rating from the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. It is important to note that the AMA Guides are not dispositive of the issue, and there are ways to receive more than the impairment rating.
Injury to the arm and hand is considered a scheduled injury, meaning that your entitlement is based upon the body part injured. Each body part has a different value in weeks assigned to it. This was set up by the legislature and is dispositive as to the amount of weeks each body part has as its total value. For arm injury, the maximum value of a loss of arm is 250 weeks. If you injure a part of your arm and sustain something less than a complete loss of your arm, you are entitled to that percentage times the number of weeks. For a hand injury, the maximum loss of hand is 190 weeks. There are also values for each finger and thumb if those are involved specifically.
For example, if you have an arm injury and the doctor does surgery and ends up indicating that you have a 10% impairment to your arm, you would be entitled to 10% of 250 weeks or 25 weeks of benefits at your weekly rate. However, as indicated above, the impairment rating may not be the only amount that can be awarded by the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner. The impairment rating is typically considered the most dispositive factor in determining the loss of use of the body part but is not the only amount that can be awarded.
The calculation of how much you should receive can become very complex, so it is advisable to consult with a skilled Work Comp. attorney, such as Pothitakis Law firm. They offer a free initial consultation to talk about your claim and to make sure you are being compensated to the full extent of Iowa law.