In many workers’ compensation cases, the goal of both the injured worker and the employer is to get the injured worker in a position to return to work in their former position. However, in some cases, a worker suffers a work-related injury that is so severe that they are permanently disabled and cannot return to work. If you may be in this situation, you may be wondering what benefits are available to you and how to make sure you receive these workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to.
The California workers’ compensation attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at our office have many years of experience handling complex workers’ compensation cases, like those involving permanent disabilities. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to discuss your work injury case.
What Does it Mean to Be Permanently Disabled?
A permanent disability is any lasting disability stemming from your work-related injury or illness that has an effect on your activities of daily living. If your work-related injury or illness results in a permanent disability, you may still be entitled to benefits even if you are eventually able to return to some kinf of work.
A doctor will determine whether or not your work-related injury or illness has resulted in permanent disability. This usually occurs when your injury or illness has become stable and there is not likely to be any more improvement in your condition. Your doctor may use the term permanent and stationary to describe your condition as stable, or your doctor may also state that you have reached maximum medical improvement.
Permanent Disability is Determined at the Time Your Condition Has Become Either Permanent and Stationary or When You Have Reached Maximum Medical Improvement
When you have reached maximum medical improvement or your condition has become permanent and stationary, your doctor will notify the claims administrator that you have a permanent disability by sending the administrator a report. Your doctor will also take into consideration whether any of your permanent disability had another cause other than your work injury.
An example of this would be if you had a previous injury to the same body part that may have also been a contributing factor. When there may be another contributing factor to your disability, your doctor generally will evaluate the contributing factor or factors to determine what percentage of your disability is attributed to other factors. This is called apportionment.
Permanent Total Disability Versus Permanent Partial Disability
There is a difference between permanent total disability and permanent partial disability. With permanent total disability, it is assumed that you are unable to perform any kind of work again. Injuries that rise to the level of permanent total disability include things like serious amputations, paralysis, and complete loss of eyesight. If you are found to suffer permanently total disability, your benefits will include permanent payment of two-thirds of your average weekly wages for life. Permanent partial disability is more common than permanent total disability.
If I Am Found to Be Permanently Disabled, What Benefits Am I Entitled to?
If you are permanently partially disabled, the benefits you are entitled to are determined by California law. The date of your work injury will be considered when calculating your benefits, along with your impairment level. Your impairment level will be expressed as a percentage of impairment, and it is determined by your treating physician or a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME). Your impairment level is based on how significantly your injury impacts your activities of daily living.
Your impairment percentage is then applied to a mathematical formula to calculate the level of your permanent disability. Also included in this formula is your age and occupation at the time of injury.
Returning to Work After Receiving Permanent Disability Benefits
While you may qualify for permanent disability benefits for your work-related injury, it does not necessarily mean that you are barred from reentering the workforce again. Many people who have suffered permanent injuries are able to return to work in positions that are less labor-intensive.
If you have a work-related injury that has left you permanently disabled, either partially or totally, it is a good idea to contact a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. Our attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel are here to help you pursue the benefits you deserve. Contact us at (707) 542-5132 or fill out our online contact form.