Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. If a work-related injury or illness results in permanent disability, an affected worker may be entitled to additional benefits that are not made available to workers who have suffered lesser harm.
Permanent disability refers to a lasting, work-related physical or mental impairment that inhibits a person’s ability to perform their job. This classification is divided into two categories: permanent total disability and permanent partial disability. PTD occurs when a worker is unable to work in any capacity, while PPD occurs when a worker can still perform some work but (permanently) not at the same level as before the injury or illness.
Permanent total disability benefits
In cases of PTD, workers are typically entitled to weekly payments, generally two-thirds of their average weekly wage, for life. The amount and duration can vary depending on the specific laws applicable to the case. Sometimes, a lump sum payment option may be offered, although this opportunity can also impact the total amount received.
Permanent partial disability benefits
For PPD cases, benefits are typically determined based on a percentage of certain scheduled or nonscheduled losses. Scheduled losses involve specific body parts like an arm or leg, for which states have designated a certain number of weeks of compensation. Nonscheduled losses involve areas not listed in the schedule, such as the back, and benefits are usually determined based on the worker’s diminished earning capacity.
Medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation
Aside from disability benefits, workers’ compensation generally covers reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to work injury or illness. Suppose a worker cannot return to their previous job due to disability. In that case, they may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services to help them find new suitable employment.
One of the most important things a person should do if they have a permanent work-related injury is to explore the benefits to which they may be entitled. They may have to fight for the benefits they’re due, so seeking legal guidance is generally important and wise.