What happens if you suffer a workplace injury that is permanent but not serious enough to render you totally disabled? In Indiana, workers who are still able to work in a limited capacity can receive a type of workers’ comp payment called permanent partial impairment (PPI).
There are two types of PPI benefits available in Indiana: scheduled loss benefits and unscheduled loss benefits. The amount of compensation is not based on your salary or wages but rather on the extent to which a specific part of the body has been impaired. The degree of impairment is determined by a doctor’s rating as well as by consulting a schedule published by the state.
The state schedule assigns degrees of impairment to certain body parts and assigns a monetary value to each degree. For each degree of impairment, you will receive the following amounts:
For example, the 2020 schedule says injury to the big toe is worth 12 degrees. Assume that you lost your right big toe in a work accident and the doctor assigns you a 100 percent impairment rating for it. You will receive $1,750 for the first 10 degrees of impairment and $1,952 for the last two degrees, for total PPI payment of $21,404.
If the body part you injured is not listed on the state’s schedule, you may still be eligible for PPI benefits. Unscheduled benefits are based on the amount of total bodily function you lost. The doctor will evaluate your level of impairment and assign a degree. For example, a 20 percent impairment of an unlisted body part is the same as 20 degrees on the schedule. You would receive $39,040 (20 degrees x $1,952).
Doctors frequently try to assign impairment ratings that are far too low. This occurs because in Indiana, the doctor you see is chosen by your employer (or their insurance company) and not by you. Employers and insurers get to know the local doctors and they often choose doctors known to give more conservative ratings, leading to lower workers’ compensation payouts. A skilled lawyer can help you challenge the rating with countervailing evidence and appeal any adverse decision.
The workers’ compensation attorneys of Rubino, Ruman, Crosmer & Polen help injured workers obtain PPI benefits and pursue personal injury lawsuits against negligent parties when necessary. To discuss your work injury with a lawyer, please call 219-227-4631 or contact our Dyer office online to arrange a free consultation.