Injured workers who have completed medical treatment, but are left with ongoing pain, discomfort or functional difficulty are entitled to monetary compensation. The process typically plays out as follows: The injured worker’s own attorney will refer them to a doctor who rates a percentage of impairment to the affected body part. The employer will then refer the injured worker for their own impairment rating. Sometimes the parties agree to a percentage., other times there is a hearing and the Worker’s Compensation Commission assigns the percentage. The injured worker is awarded a specific amount of money (weeks of compensation) based on the percentage, the body part, the year of the injury, and the worker’s pre-injury wages.
There are four tiers of permanent disability benefits:
(1) First Tier: Injuries involving less than 75 weeks of compensation are paid at certain rate. For instance, 14% to the back (70 weeks) and 20% to the arm (60 weeks).
(2) Second Tier: Injuries with 75 weeks of compensation or more but less than 250 weeks are paid at a higher rate. Examples would include: 30% to the shoulder (150 weeks) and 40% to the leg (120 weeks).
(3) Serious Disability: Injuries of with 250 weeks of compensation or more are called Serious Disability. Compensation is paid by adding an addition 1/3 number of weeks and at an even higher rate. For instance, 60% to neck would be 400 weeks (300 + 100) of compensation.
(4) Permanent Total Disability: Workers who are deemed to be “permanently totally disabled” are incapable of performing any work for which there is a reasonably stable market. The worker is entitled to weekly workers compensation benefits for as long as she remains permanent and totally disabled, usually for life.
Injured workers need not be out of work to collect these benefits. They also need not work for the same employer to do so. Collecting money for permanent disability does not close a workers’ compensation case. Cases remain open for medical benefits for the life of the injured worker and remain open for set time periods to collect money benefits. While it is possible to settle and close a workers’ compensation case, it is not necessary to do so.
If you have any questions regarding permanent disability benefits, call 410-687-7878 to schedule an appointment with an experienced attorney today.