When you file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits due to an injury or illness you are entitled to a variety of benefits depending on your circumstances. These benefits can pay your medical expenses related to your work-related injuries as well as a portion of your regular weekly salary when you are unable to return to work. While minor work-related injuries that cause little time away from work can sometimes be handled on your own, with few problems, more serious workers’ compensation claims can significantly benefit from having a strong workers’ compensation attorney on your side. In particular, if your work-related accident has left you with any permanent problems or ongoing issues, you need an experienced Schaffer & Associates workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you receive the permanent partial disability benefits you need and deserve.
What is the Definition of a Permanent Partial Disability?
Many work injuries are relatively mild, allowing employees to return to work quickly with no lasting effects from the injuries—and a full recovery. Other work injuries can be much more significant, leaving permanent physical damage behind. If your work injury has not fully resolved, your life could be changed forever. Your earning capacity may be significantly diminished, your earning capacity may be lessened or you may just have ongoing pain and symptoms that don’t resolve. If you find yourself in such an untenable position, you could be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits under Ohio workers’ compensation laws.
Permanent partial disability is available when there is residual damage following a work-related injury or illness. Any type of permanent injury that cannot be fully resolved is considered a permanent partial disability. In other words, you may have recovered to the level possible, but you will never be the same as you were before your work-related injury or illness. Even if you have returned to your regular job, you can qualify for a permanent partial disability award if you are left with ongoing problems and difficulties due to your injury.
Some permanent residuals are covered by scheduled loss award and are specifically outlined in the workers compensation statute. These relate to complete hearing loss, vision loss, loss of a limb or other body parts. These scheduled loss awards are paid based on a maximum for the year of injury. You might also qualify for a scheduled loss award if you have a functional loss of use of a body part even if the body part was not amputated.
Other permanent partial disability awards result from permanent disability due to an injury of illness. These include injuries that result in surgery or extensive treatment and can include anything from back injuries to leg injuries to hand injuries or even carpal tunnel syndrome. Any injury that is not an amputation or a loss of use fall into this category. Although you could certainly heal from your work-related injury, permanent damage could keep you from ever returning to your pre-injury health. While not being able to return to your pre-injury or illness health, you may still be able to work; thus, you have a permanent partial disability.
How Long Does a Permanent Partial Disability Last?
As the name implies, a permanent partial disability means your health will never reach what it was before your workplace injury or illness. You will have some type of permanent residuals that you did not have prior to the injury. You have a permanent impairment that, while not leaving you totally disabled, may impede your ability to work or to do your activities of daily living as you did prior to the injury. Unlike permanent total disability, you do not have to be completely disabled and unable to work in any capacity to receive these benefits.
If you are applying for scheduled loss awards or loss of use awards, you can apply for those benefits at any time and they are paid based on a predetermined scheduled. However, before you can apply for regular permanent partial disability through Ohio workers’ compensation, your other types of workers’ compensation payments must end. Your benefits will be calculated based on the percentage of impairment caused by the work-related injury or illness (the percentage of whole-person impairment). The higher the percentage of impairment, the greater the benefit you are entitled to receive.
What is the Process for Filing for Permanent Partial Disability in Toledo, OH?
For scheduled loss awards, a motion will suffice along with adequate proof. However, for most permanent partial disability, you will be required to file an Application for Determination of the Percentage of Permanent Partial Disability or Increase of Permanent Partial Disability (C-92) through the Ohio BWC. The form may be filed 26 weeks after you have received your last award for temporary total disability or wage loss or 26 weeks from the date of your workplace injury or occupational disease if you received no other workers’ compensation benefits. To determine your percentage of disability, you will be asked to undergo a medical examination by an independent physician.
Following the examination, a tentative order will be filed and you will then have 20 days from the time you receive that order to object. If, for example, the exam and subsequent order find you are 10 percent disabled, but you disagree with this finding, you can object. Your objection will be heard by the Industrial Commission of Ohio who will rule based on medical evidence. No permanent partial disability benefits will be paid until the IC issues the final decision. If you do not object to the initial order, it becomes final. A knowledgeable Schaffer & Associates attorney can help you schedule an appointment with an alternative doctor, and argue at a hearing for a higher percentage. Additionally, an attorney will help to determine if you may qualify for a loss of use award due to your permanent disability.
Ohio permanent partial disability benefits are paid every other week, based on two-thirds of your average weekly wage and your percentage of disability up to a maximum for your year of injury. These awards are often paid at one time depending on the amount of the award and the time that has lapsed since you were last paid. However, these awards are not full and final settlements of the claim.
Often, a self-insured employer will try to work out a lump sum settlement of your claim rather than a permanent partial award when you file for permanent partial disability. You must have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney from Schaffer & Associates negotiate such a settlement to avoid receiving a settlement that is much less than you would have received and which fully considers your future medical needs.
How Can Schaffer & Associates Help?
Being injured at work—or being diagnosed with a work-related illness—can be devastating for your life and future. The attorneys at Schaffer & Associates, LPA, can assist you throughout the workers’ compensation process to ensure you receive the benefits you need and deserve. We have been helping Toledo, Ohio residents just like you for decades. We understand the system and know the best ways to ensure you receive total and fair compensation for your work-related injury or illness. Contact Schaffer & Associates, LPA, today for a free consultation.