What in the World is Partial Permanent Disability?
More than likely, you’re confused. Maybe you first heard the words partial permanent disability after an injured coworker returned to the job. Permanent disability sounds so final. So, how is it that someone can come back to work after receiving an award for partial permanent disability?
In the back of your mind, you’re somewhat questioning the integrity of your work buddy. Yes, you did see him fall and break his arm while walking on the slippery floor in the showroom. In fact, you even noticed one of his bones sticking out after his accident. You certainly don’t question that your co-worker was injured on the job. But, how does a broken arm mean permanent disability?
The explanation is simpler than you might think. Under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, there are two types of permanent disability. The confusion comes in understanding the differences between partial permanent disability and total permanent benefits.
Total permanent disability means that an injured worker’s incapacitation will prevent him from returning to employment. The amount of benefits is configured based on the year of the accident. So, once again – what in the world is partial permanent disability?
Understanding Partial Permanent Disability
When an injured worker receives an award for partial permanent disability, it means a work accident left them with a long-lasting condition. As a result of the harm, they have suffered some loss of function. New Jersey workers’ compensation laws acknowledge the issue and provide monetary allowances.
Take our example with the gentleman who broke his arm. It was a serious injury – he needed surgery to set the fractured bone. He wore a cast for a long time and then attended several physical therapy sessions. Ultimately, he was deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI.) However, a medical release does not mean that permanent damage wasn’t a result of the accident.
Any type of injury can have long-term residual effects. For some, broken bones can mean a lifetime of stiffness and achiness. For others, there may be an inability to lift items over a specific weight. Arthritis can set in as a result of a traumatic injury.
The bottom line is that the court may find you eligible for an award of partial permanent disability even though you are still well enough to go back to your old job.
Determining Partial Permanent Disability Benefits
You should know that insurance companies are not required to offer partial (or total) permanent disability benefits voluntarily. Some claimants are content with receiving income while they are out, also known as temporary disability benefits. Of course, there is also an expectation that the workers’ compensation carrier will pay the associated medical bills.
That said, it is extremely important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney concerning your eligibility for any type of permanent disability benefits. Your legal counsel can also make sure you are receiving the proper amounts for temporary disability – and medical care.
The process for determining partial permanent disability starts after your release from medical care. Your attorney and the insurance company will both arrange for independent medical exams. This means meeting with a doctor for the sheer purpose of estimating your percentage of disability.
Your lawyer and the attorney for your employer will attempt to negotiate your award for partial permanent disability. They will use both doctors’ reports to come up with what seems like a fair number. Partial permanent disability awards are based on the year of your accident.
Why is the year so important? The Schedule of Disabilities comes out on an annual basis and lists impairment to various body parts. For example, according to the 2018 schedule, someone who suffered a 25% loss of function of an arm, would be entitled to $19,882.50.
In the final stages, your case will be assigned to a compensation judge who will review the proposed figures. Additionally, you will be required to testify concerning the changes your injury has made in your life.