Types of Workers' Comp Disabilities
Workers’ compensation is a system that is intended to financially protect people who are hurt on the job. Without workers’ compensation, many employees would be left with terrible life-changing injuries and unable to work and support themselves and their families for years to come. Working has risks, and workers’ comp is designed to help alleviate some of the burdens that injured workers face after an injury.
Two terms come up a lot in workers’ comp injury cases: Permanent Total Disability and Permanent Partial Disability. The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Stewart Law Offices, are here to help you understand how workers’ compensation works and how to build a strong claim for maximum benefits. Our goal is to protect you and your family and help you get back on your feet after a workplace injury. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.
What Is Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)?
After an on-the-job injury, a worker should seek immediate medical treatment and follow all doctor’s orders. Upon completing medical care, the treating physician will declare that the worker has reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This is an important term because it basically means that the worker has recovered as much as can be expected from the injury.
What Qualifies as a PPD injury?
- An injury is classified as “permanent” if the injury will not entirely resolve.
- It is considered “partial” if it only impacts part of the body.
What is the Workers’ Compensation Pay Scale for PPD?
The amount of compensation for a PPD injury is calculated using the following formula:
Compensation rate (set by the injury schedule) x number of weeks designated under the injury schedule x impairment rating (determined by a doctor).
So, for instance, if you lose a hand at work, the injury schedule noted above says that you get 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wages for 200 weeks. If your average weekly wage is $500, that would amount to $66,660. If the doctor determines your impairment rating is 30 percent, you should be entitled to receive about $20,000.
Ultimately, the injury schedule largely determines compensation. However, an attorney can be particularly helpful in interpreting and arguing for whether the injury is properly classified as permanent or temporary and whether the injury to a body part or function is likely to impair future employability.
What Is Permanent Total Disability (PTD)?
On the other hand, in extreme cases where the injury is very severe, Permanent Total Disability benefits may be warranted. For injuries after June 24, 2011, this type of award is paid under the following limited circumstances only:
- Loss of both hands
- Loss of both arms
- Loss of both feet
- Loss of both legs
- Loss of both eyes (complete blindness)
- Any combination of two of the above
- A spinal cord injury with paralysis to both legs or arms
- Some permanent brain or head injuries
- Second- or third-degree burns to a third of your body or more
How Many Weeks Does Workers’ Compensation Pay for PTD?
When a worker suffers a permanent total disability, they are to receive two-thirds of the average weekly wage for life.
The Industrial Commission also has discretion to award additional compensation for permanent partial disability benefits as follows:
- For serious disfigurement to the face or head – up to $20,000
- For serious disfigurement to other parts of the body – up to $10,000
- For permanent injuries to organs (internal or external) – up to $20,000
Additional Benefits Available to Injured Workers
Filing a workers’ compensation claim is not just about getting money to help replace your income. It’s also about making sure you and your family are taken care of. Filing a work comp claim can help you get the medical care you need, as well as pursue help related to retraining for employment in another field. Here are some additional benefits you may be able to receive through workers’ compensation:
- Medical Expenses. Although your employer gets to select your treating physician, you do have a right to select someone for a second opinion at your own cost. An experienced attorney can often help you decide when and whether this is right in your case.
- Vocational Training. Some seriously injured workers may no longer be able to return to the former career or trade that they previously held. For example, a construction worker may no longer be able to work in that field due to the loss of a hand. However, there may be many other suitable jobs for the worker if he or she had access to necessary vocational rehabilitation and training.
- Travel Costs. If you need to travel to get to your employer’s selected treating physician or other specialists, then you might be entitled to reimbursement of your mileage and travel expenses.
- Death Benefits. Spouses, children, and others who depend on the injured worker may also be able to claim benefits in cases where the worker has died as a result of his or her injuries. When a worker dies, it can mean the entire loss of financial resources for a family. While it is limited in nature, the surviving family can receive up to 500 weeks of compensation, based on two-thirds of the average weekly wage payable for that worker.
- Final Expenses. Burial and funeral costs can also be claimed following a fatal workplace injury. This benefit pays up to $10,000 in expenses, which may not cover everything, but it certainly can go a long way to alleviate the burdens for a grieving family.
Talk to Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
If you and your family are struggling after a serious work injury, call the compassionate workers’ comp lawyers at Stewart Law Offices, today. The call is free, and we are here to answer any questions you may have. But don’t delay. There are a lot of ways you can err in the process, costing you a lot of time and money. Contact our firm to find out how we can help.