When someone suffers an amputation of a limb or loss of a body part, such as an eye, Michigan's Worker's Compensation Act provides for "specific loss" benefits.
There is a schedule of benefits found in Section 361 of the Act. For example, loss of a thumb provides the injured party with 36 weeks of wage loss benefits (payable at the weekly benefit rate, based on the claimant's average weekly wage). Loss of an eye provides 162 weeks of benefits.
The Act also provides for Total and Permanent Disability (T&P) benefits if someone has loss the use of a combination of limbs and body parts. For example if someone has lost the sight in both eyes then they are entitled to an increase in wage loss benefits up to 2/3 of the state average weekly wage. ($496.33 for 2004).
The Supreme Court in Cain vs. Waste Management clarified that the claimant may suffer something less than a full amputation as long as the claimant demonstrates, "no practical usefulness" of the limb or body part. Furthermore, when it comes to the loss of legs, arms, or any combination of eyes, arms or legs (one eye and one leg, for example) the determination of "usefulness" is made without reference to corrective devices such as prosthetics, braces or glasses.
Mr. Cain was awarded T&P benefits because he sustained an amputation of one leg and the damage to the other leg met the "no practical usefulness" standard.