What You Need to Know About Permanent Disability for Work Injuries
Let’s test your knowledge: If you receive permanent disability for work injuries, can you return to gainful employment? What do you think?
The answer is not as obvious as you might surmise. You might think we only mean the unfortunate chance you have been found to be totally and permanently disabled. In that case, you are deemed unable to return to work. But, permanent total disability is not the only type of workers’ compensation permanency award in New Jersey.
Confused yet? You should know that New Jersey workers’ compensation laws recognize two types of permanent disability. One is permanent total disability; the other is permanent partial disability. With the latter, you are considered employable in some capacity.
Workers’ Compensation and Permanent Disability
An award for permanent total disability is perhaps the easier of the two to understand. After the injured worker has received maximum medical benefit, medical experts conduct evaluations regarding the claimant’s condition.
It doesn’t matter if the injured worker had preexisting injuries. A determination regarding permanent total disability is based on the claimant’s condition subsequent to the work accident. If you were already partially disabled before the accident, some benefits may be paid from a state fund referred to as the Second Injury Fund. You can read more about that here.
Some injuries themselves warrant an award for permanent total disability. According to the State of New Jersey, a person is presumed to be totally and permanently disabled if “the worker has lost two major members or a combination of members of the body such as eyes, arms, hands, legs or feet.”
New Jersey law sets the amount of permanent disability at seventy percent of the average weekly wages at the time of the accident. There are maximum and minimum amounts for permanent total disability based on the year of the accident. The initial award is for 450 weeks, reviewable at the conclusion of that time period.
Injured workers may also be deemed eligible for permanent partial disability. This means that the injured worker has suffered some sort of permanent disability. For example, someone who breaks an arm may be partially and permanently disabled. The same is true for an individual who suffers a herniated disc while lifting something at work.
Permanent partial disability suggests that the injured worker is able to return to some type of employment. However, it does not mean they are necessarily capable of returning to the same job. An employer may attempt to make accommodations to employ a worker in another capacity.
Awards for partial permanency are made after the conclusion of medical treatment. The claimant is examined by physicians for the workers’ compensation carrier. Claimant’s counsel will also secure medical expert opinion to determine the degree of permanency.
The amount of money paid for partial permanent disability is determined by the “Disability Wage and Compensation Schedule”. Once again, amounts are set by the year the accident occurred. Take a look at the chart for accidents that occurred in 2016.
This is our third in a series on workers’ compensation benefits. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we seek to ensure that our clients are afforded authorized medical care, temporary disability and permanency awards. Have questions? Contact us to see how we can assist you with your workers’ compensation claim.