Claiming Permanent Disability Workers’ Comp Benefits
Employees who have suffered an injury on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits depending on several factors. Claiming workers’ comp for minor injuries usually does not require legal assistance, but for more serious cases that merit permanent disability benefits, things can get complicated.
When this is the case, the wisest decision you can make is to hire a workers’ comp lawyer to help you fight for the benefits you deserve.
What are Permanent Disability Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits can be claimed by workers who have suffered an injury or illness as a result of regular activities on the job. These benefits are meant to help with medical expenses and lost wages without having to go through the hassle of a personal injury lawsuit. The amount awarded depends on the severity of the injury or illness and other factors.
Normally, workers’ comp benefits are approved for a set amount of time, but workers can be awarded permanent disability benefits long-term or even for a lifetime if they have suffered an extremely severe injury such as paralysis or the loss of an arm or leg.
There are two permanent disability categories injured workers may be able to obtain:
- Permanent Total Disability
This category is meant for injured employees unfortunate enough to suffer an injury so grave that they are never able to work again.
- Permanent Partial Disability
This category is intended for injured employees who are permanently disabled due to a work-related injury but can return to work after rehabilitation and can still perform job duties in one capacity or another.
Injured workers are assigned “disability ratings” when permanent disability is a factor. This percentage is determined according to the extent of the disability in question. A 100% rating applies to injured workers who are completely disabled because of a workplace accident. Those assigned a rating under 100% are considered to be partially disabled.
Permanent Disability Ratings
The permanent disability ratings an injured worker is assigned will go a long way when it comes to the benefits awarded.
The process of figuring out these disability ratings is complicated and often a matter of contention between injured workers and their employer’s insurance company. The steps in this process involve medical reports and conversions into permanent disability ratings.
Medical Reports and Impairment Ratings
When any type of accident occurs at the workplace and an employee is injured, the most important thing is to get medical assistance. If the injury in question is permanent, the worker will receive medical attention on an ongoing basis. The treating doctor will continue to evaluate the employee and deliver a medical report that details the employee’s disability.
- For example, details in the medical report can include:
- Partial or complete loss of a limb
- Temporary or permanent loss of range of motion of a limb
- Other impaired functions as a result of the injury
These medical findings are taken into account when impairment percentages and ratings are assigned for any body parts that were injured directly as a result of the work-related accident. Ultimately, the physician bases the final ratings on “The AMA Guides” which is a book outlining a method to assign impairment ratings properly.
The final impairment rating will now be the injured employee’s “whole person impairment.”
Conversions into Permanent Disability Ratings
The whole person impairment percentage delivered by the treating physician is converted into a permanent disability rating.
Some of the criteria involved to accomplish this include:
- The specific injury sustained by the worker.
- The work duties assigned to the employee.
- The worker’s age and general medical condition before the accident.
- The likelihood of future employment potential.
It should be noted that even the most experienced physicians will sometimes assign permanent disability ratings that are far from correct. This can have a significant impact on the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to.
A highly-experienced workers’ comp attorney will be able to determine the best course of action to get you the benefits that are rightfully yours depending on the specifics of your case.
How Much are Permanent Disability Payments?
Since permanent disability benefits are meant to help injured workers with medical expenses and lost income, their importance cannot be overstated. Most people in this situation are unaware of how much these benefits will help them economically. So how much are permanent disability payments?
Permanent Total Disability benefits are paid at a rate of two-thirds of the worker’s pre-injury wages. Injured workers awarded PTD benefits are paid on a weekly basis for the rest of their lives.
Permanent Partial Disability benefits are also paid at a rate of two-thirds of the worker’s pre-injury wages. Likewise, injured employees will get their benefits on a weekly basis. However, since this is a “partial” category, injured workers will not get benefits for the rest of their lives but for a set number of weeks which will be determined according to the severity of the injury or illness in question.
The Importance of a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Permanent disability benefits cost insurance companies a huge amount of money. Because of this, they will often make it as hard as they can for injured workers to get the compensation they deserve. Sometimes they will even deny claims for unfounded and illegal reasons in the hopes that workers will not appeal the decision.
Whether your claim for permanent disability benefits has been denied, you have gotten less than you feel you deserve, or the benefits you were getting were unjustly terminated or reduced, contacting a workers’ comp lawyer is important.
An attorney with extensive experience fighting for the rights of injured workers will be able to examine all the facts of your case and advise you accordingly.
Contact Us Today
There is a limited time period within which you can legally go after the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve after an accident on the job so it is crucial to act fast.
If you have been hurt at work and want legal counsel about claiming permanent disability benefits, contact us today at the Law Office of Robert E Frawley at (617) 523-2929.