If a claimant has had a prior settlement or award for a loss of a body part, other than for a loss of the person as a whole, you can and should apply that credit to any future settlement or award to the same body part. Generally speaking, you can apply this credit by deducting the prior percentage of loss from the new percentage. For instance, if a case is being settled for 15% loss of the right hand and the petitioner was previously awarded 5% loss of the right hand, then the amount of the settlement should be reduced to a net 10% loss of the right hand.
However, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind. When applying a credit for an injury that occurred prior to February 1, 2006 (the effective date of the IWCA amendments from that year), except for dates of injury between July 20, 2005 and November 15, 2005, you have to deduct the number of weeks of loss from that prior credit rather than the percentages. This is due to the fact that those amendments altered the total number of weeks for each body part. This rule was applied recently in the Arbitration decision for Robert W. Smith, Petitioner v. Cont’l Tire of N. Americas, Inc., Respondent, 11 IL. W.C. 37913 (Ill. Indus. Com’n Oct. 27, 2014).
Also, keep in mind that that for shoulder injuries that resulted in an award or settlement for loss of the arm prior to Will County (decided February 17, 2012), a credit can be applied to future awards or settlements for that same arm. For more information, see Stanford Dorsey, Petitioner v. City of Chicago, Respondent, 13 IL. W.C. 03624 (Ill. Indus. Com’n Jan. 3, 2014). Unfortunately, a shoulder award or settlement from before Will County cannot be applied to another injury to that same shoulder, due to the fact that the more recent shoulder injury would now be classified as a loss of the person as whole.
Thanks to attorney Michael Bantz for this succinct summary. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the application of a credit, don’t hesitate to contact us!