There are certain benefits afforded to workers injured to the point of permanent disability through workplace injuries. Settlements may occur if an injured employee has been deemed permanently disabled as a result of an occurrence in the workplace. Employers and/or their insurance companies are required to pay certain amounts to the injured worker as compensation. How all of these elements get determined, however, involves a series of evaluations and a specific understanding of workers’ compensation law.
How is Permanent Disability Determined for Workers’ Comp?
Permanent disability (PD) includes any lasting disabilities from a work injury or illness that will affect an individual’s ability to earn a living. When a physician determines that an injured worker’s medical condition has reached the point of MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement), the employee may be entitled to permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation. Permanently disabled workers are those who have suffered such severe injuries or impairments as a result of their workplace injuries so that they may no longer be able to perform their pre-injury tasks or duties. The extent of a permanent disability incurred by employees may vary depending on the individual, injury, and even the type of medical treatment they underwent. Other factors including age, occupation, and earnings also contribute to whether or not an employee will be labeled as permanently disabled in the face of workers’ compensation. Once an individual has been classified as having a permanent disability as a result of a workplace injury, however, the next step is to determine what benefits they are entitled to.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for Permanent Disability Benefits?
A workers’ compensation doctor, either provided by the employer’s insurance or as part of a second opinion evaluation chosen by the injured worker, can determine whether or not an individual is eligible for permanent disability benefits through workers’ comp. In order to receive permanent disability benefits, the physician evaluating the case must come to the conclusion that the worker has reached the “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. The MMI simply indicates that the worker’s condition has improved to the maximum potential and will not continue to progress over time. Once a doctor has indicated MMI, the doctor will determine what remaining injuries the worker is left with and indicate the residual restrictions or limitations. To best understand what your permanent disability evaluation means for you, Cardinal Law Partners advises working directly with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Benefits for Permanent Disability with Workers’ Compensation
Essentially, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides two types of benefits for workers that suffer a disability. The first is medical compensation. The insurance company will be responsible for providing medical compensation for all things that provide the injured worker relief and lessens their period of disability. The other type of benefit is disability compensation. In addition to the temporary total disability benefits the injured worker receives while they are recovering and healing from their injury, they will typically be entitled to permanent disability compensation. This may include ongoing weekly benefits or a medical impairment rating. Physicians assign this rating based on the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s rating guide. These aspects, in conjunction with the work that was performed, and the doctor’s determination of permanent restrictions, will determine the benefits provided to the impaired worker. Even once an individual has been identified as having a permanent disability, there are different types of permanent disability benefits to consider.
Types of Permanent Disability
Permanent and total disability prevents an employee from working in any type of gainful employment. The most serious category, permanent and total disability, is reserved for the most debilitating conditions such as blindness, loss of limbs, or severe impairment to brain function. The types of injuries allow compensation past the 500 weeks allowed by statute.
Most types of permanent disabilities are considered permanent partial disabilities, and they can be either scheduled or unscheduled. A scheduled loss with a permanent partial disability is one included on the list of the state’s workers’ compensation laws. This type of loss clearly outlines the dollar amount to be afforded. North Carolina also allows for compensation related to scarring in addition to body parts that are not outlined by statute. Cardinal Law Partners can provide advice and guidance on how to navigate losses that are not clearly outlined by statute.
For additional information on how to handle permanent disability in a workers’ comp case, reach out to the team at Cardinal Law Partners today. We are experienced in getting our clients the care they need and deserve in North Carolina and the neighboring areas. Call 833-444-4257 for a free case evaluation!