There are many different kinds of leg injuries. Typically in the workers comp context we see broken ankles (tibia/fibula) fractures, foot fractures, broken kneecaps and torn meniscus cases all the time. Likewise, we’ve handled broken femurs, hip replacements, amputations (total and partial) – nearly every type of leg injury you can think of. I’m a veteran of two knee surgeries, including a torn ACL, so I’m particularly sensitive to the issues people with leg injuries face.
It’s impossible to cover every leg injury and what it could be worth in a little article like this, but here are the basics.
The first number that’s important is your PPD rate. That’s 60% of your average weekly wage for the 52 weeks preceding the accident. For example, if you made $1000 a week before the accident, your PPD rate would be $600. We’ll use that as an example.
A leg is worth 215 weeks. If you had your leg amputated because of a workers compensation accident, you’d be entitled to 215 x your PPD rate. There are different minimums and maximums for amputation rates in Illinois – currently the minimum PPD rate is $466.13 and the maximum is $1,243.00 (through January 14, 2011).
Likewise, a foot is worth 167 weeks. Most ankle injuries are considered part of the foot even though they involve the bones of the leg. Toes each have different rates.
Now, for cases where there is an injury to a leg, but not an amputation, you would be awarded a percentage of what a leg is worth. For example, assume the arbitrator awards you 25% of a leg. The case would look like this (using the $1000 a week example above):
215 x 25% = 53.75 x ($600 PPD rate) = $32,250
Obviously I’m not saying every case is worth 25%, or that everyone has a $600 PPD rate or anything like that. This is just an example of how things work.
What determines the percentage? Lots of factors go into that, including how serious the injury was, whether you needed surgery, what type of work you do, how well you recover, what permanent restrictions you have, etc. As lawyers, it’s our job to maximize the percentage used – and we know how to argue for the highest percentages possible.
Keep in mind that not every leg/foot case is handled the way I’ve described above. Also, there might be more money available if someone other than your employer or a fellow employee was at fault (a car accident case, for example). Certainly every case is different, and this is not a substitute for legal advice. If you want to know more about what your case might be worth, contact an Illinois workers comp lawyer.
(Howard Zimmerle is a workers compensation lawyer in Rock Island Illinois. You can reach him at 309-794-1660 or hzimmerle [at] mjwlaw.com).