If you are hurt in a work accident that leaves you with a permanent injury, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits.
What are permanent partial disability benefits?
Permanent partial disability benefits are paid in addition to any wage loss and medical benefits. These benefits are awarded when you suffer a permanent loss of a body part.
These benefits can be awarded for amputation, loss of use of a body part, or loss of range of motion of a body part. Virginia is unusual in that it does not recognize the loss of use for either the back or the neck. However, if you suffer a back or neck injury that affects an extremity, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits.
When can I receive permanent partial disability payments?
You cannot receive these benefits until your injuries have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This basically means that your injuries have reached the point where no additional medical treatment is necessary. Your treating doctor will determine when your injuries have reached maximum medical improvement.
Functional Capacity Evaluations
After you have reached MMI, your doctor will determine your disability rating for the affected body part. Normally, your doctor will send you for a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) with a physical therapist to determine the rating. Your doctor will then agree or disagree with the rating assigned by the physical therapist.
Section 65.2-503 of the Code of Virginia lists the compensation period of each body part. For example, if you suffer a total loss of an arm, you would be entitled to 200 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. If you suffer a total loss of a leg, you would be entitled to 175 weeks of the same benefits.
If you do not suffer a total loss of a body part, your permanent partial disability benefits are determined by a simple mathematical calculation. For example, if your doctor assigns a 20% loss of use to your arm, you would be entitled to 40 weeks of permanent partial disability (200 weeks x 20%). The complete list of permanent losses can be found here.
If you suffer a work-related injury that results in scarring, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits known as disfigurement. In order to receive this benefit, the scarring must be severe. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission will normally hold a hearing so that a Deputy Commissioner can view the scarring and award an amount to compensate for it. Disfigurement benefits are limited to just 60 weeks.
Normally, permanent partial disability benefits are paid weekly, but you can ask for the benefits to be paid in a lump sum. If they are paid in a lump sum, the workers’ compensation insurance company will normally take a discount of 4%.
If you or someone you know was hurt in a work accident that resulted in permanent injury, please call one of the attorneys at Allen & Allen so that we can help! For a free consultation, call 866-388-1307.