Injured workers in the state of California may be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits for their injuries. The term permanent partial disability refers to a lasting partial disability resulting from your work injury or work illness. If your work injury or illness results in permanent disability in any form—you are entitled to permanent disability benefits, even if you are able to go back to some kind of work.
If you have suffered a work injury that resulted in permanent partial disability, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. To learn more about your legal rights pertaining to your workers’ compensation claim, contact Kneisler and Schondel today. Our firm has many years of experience handling many different kinds of workers’ compensation cases in the state of California. Contact Kneisler and Schondel today to schedule a consultation to discuss your California workers’ compensation case.
The Difference Between Permanent Partial Disability and Permanent Total Disability
Depending on the severity of your work injury or illness, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability or permanent total disability benefits. The difference between the two is that permanent partial disability is considered a permanent disability of less than 100%, while permanent total disability refers to total and complete permanent disability. Most injured workers with a permanent total disability are unable to work again.
Generally, if found to have a permanent total disability, the injured worker will receive ongoing workers’ compensation benefits for the remainder of their life. These benefits will typically be the same amount that they were receiving in temporary disability benefits—meaning two-thirds of the average weekly wage that they were earning prior to their injury. This amount will still be subject to the maximum and minimum benefit rates set by the state of California, so it is possible that the amount will change over time since the maximum and minimum rates are adjusted annually.
How Permanent Partial Disability Benefits are Calculated
If you have suffered a permanent partial disability, you may be wondering what benefits you are entitled to and how these benefits are calculated. Your payments will be based on both your percentage of permanent disability and your average weekly wages (prior to the injury). You may have the choice to receive a series of checks for this amount for a set period of time, or you may be able to receive the money all at once as a lump sum settlement.
Disability Percentage Factors
There are a few different factors that go into determining the disability percentage an injured worker may have suffered. The first factor includes any medical reports written regarding the injury. In many cases, an injured worker’s treating physician will write a report describing any permanent functional impairments resulting from the work injury—meaning, the extent to which the injury impacts the normal use of the injured body part or parts. In most cases, another physician called a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) will write a report detailing their findings regarding the permanent nature of your injury. A QME is often employed to write a report when there are disputes in the case.
The findings detailed in the physician’s report will be used to calculate a rating of your permanent disability. The rating process uses a complicated formula set forth by the state, which takes into account your occupation, physical and/or mental functional limitations, and your age.
Additionally, the state of California requires doctors to apportion any permanent disability found between your work injury and anything the physician believes is contributing to your permanent disability. When applicable, the physician’s report should make a determination regarding what percentage of your permanent disability is directly related to your work injury, and what percentage is caused by other factors (including prior injuries). Merely having a prior injury does not disqualify you from getting benefits for your work injury or illness, but in some cases, it can be an important factor.
Receiving Permanent Partial Disability Payments
Generally, an injured worker will receive permanent partial disability payments if they are found to have suffered permanent disability as a result of their work injury. These payments will not go on indefinitely—rather, they will be issued for a predetermined number of weeks. The length of time you will receive the permanent partial disability benefits depends on your disability rating as well as your date of injury. Every workers’ compensation case is different, so your workers’ compensation attorney will be able to give you more details regarding the benefit payments you can expect.