Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (an Impairment Rating)
If you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and still have difficulties with range of motion and strength, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. Maximum medical improvement means that, at least for the foreseeable future, you are not expected to improve even with continuing treatment. Permanent impairment is not a settlement, and does not close your workers compensation case. If you do have a permanent impairment, you should pursue permanent impairment benefits. Permanent impairment awards are available for injuries to extremities, scarring, hearing and vision loss, and for different types of work related lung diseases. Unfortunately, in Virginia there are no permanent impairment benefits available for injuries to the back, head/neck, torso, or internal injuries. The permanent impairment benefits are paid at your total wage replacement rate. To get the permanent impairment benefits, you need to either no longer be receiving wage replacement benefits, or be receiving partial wage replacement benefits. This means that you can be working, and still receive permanent impairment benefits. Virginia has a schedule setting forth the duration of benefits, depending on which extremity was injured and the percentage of permanent impairment sustained – the higher the percentage of loss, the more money involved. For example, a total loss of use of a leg equals 175 weeks of wage replacement benefits. However, most of the time there is a percentage loss of use; so if a physician determines you have sustained a 30% loss of use of your leg, that equals 52.5 weeks of payments at your total wage replacement rate. Of course, a higher percentage rating yields more, and a lower percentage rating yields less. The Virginia schedule loss system for awarding permanent partial disability benefits is: Injury Partial Disability Benefit Leg 175 weeks Arm 200 weeks Hand 150 weeks Foot 125 weeks Loss of vision in one eye 100 weeks Loss of hearing in one ear 50 weeks Thumb 60 weeks Index finger 35 weeks Middle finger 30 weeks Ring finger 20 weeks Pinky 15 weeks First phalanx of either thumb 1/2 the compensation that would be paid of the loss of an entire thumb or finger Big toe 30 weeks Any other toe 10 weeks First phalanx of a toe 1/2 the compensation for the loss of a full toe Severely marked disfigurement of a body part No more than 60 weeks [...]
Where are the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission Offices Located?
The main offices for the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission are located at 333 E. Franklin Street, Richmond, VA, 23219. Claims can be filed and more information obtained at www.workcomp.virginia.gov Questions can be answered by the Commission at 1-877-664-2566. The Commission also maintains a network of six regional offices throughout the state; hearings may be held at these offices depending upon your geographical location. These offices are located in Bristol (425 Bristol St, Ste 200, Bristol, VA 24201); Fairfax (Prosperity Plaza, 3020 Hamaker Court, Ste 100, Fairfax, VA 22031); Harrisonburg (41 Court Square, Ste B, Harrisonburg, VA 22801); Manassas (Sudley Tower, 7900 Sudley Rd, Ste 500, Manassas, VA 20109); Roanoke (3800 Electric Rd, Ste 200, Roanoke, VA 24018); and Virginia Beach (281 Independence Blvd., Pembroke One, Ste 310, Virginia Beach, VA 23462). If you are interested in learning more about Virginia Workers’ Compensation, we invite you to contact us at 540-552-2052 to discuss your specific case, and the initial consultation is free.
How Long Can I Get Paid Under Workers Compensation?
With an established workers compensation case, and with your authorized treating physician continuing to say you are either totally or partially disabled from work as a result of your workers’ compensation injury, you can be paid up to 500 weeks of wage replacement benefits. Medical benefits related to your workers’ compensation injury are lifetime (if you don’t settle your claim). However, many injured workers are paid far less than 500 weeks of wage replacement benefits as their doctor clears them to return to full duty work (which will stop wage replacement benefits) or as other issues arise that result in the workers’ compensation carrier trying to stop wage replacement benefits. There is a way to get around the 500-week wage replacement limitation and have wage replacement benefits paid for a lifetime; this can be done if you are deemed to be totally and permanently disabled from your workers compensation injury. This is a high bar to reach, as you would need to have significant impairment from the workers compensation injury to either both legs, both arms, or severe brain damage. You may wish to speak with a Virginia workers’ compensation attorney to learn more. We invite you to contact us at 540-552-2052 to discuss your specific case, and the initial consultation is free.
Getting A Second Medical Opinion
There are often times when injured workers disagree with their treating physicians, or simply want another doctor’s opinion before having treatment that concerns them, such as surgery or invasive testing. So how do second opinions happen in workers’ compensation cases? The easiest way is for your treating physician to request the second opinion. If your doctor wants the second opinion, the carrier should authorize it. However, if you want the second opinion, the carrier doesn’t need to pay for it. Often this can be resolved if the carrier also thinks a second opinion is worthwhile. An example is when a treating physician has recommended college essay writing service surgery, but the injured worker isn’t sure that the type of surgery proposed, or even surgery at all, is the best treatment for them. The most difficult situation is when the injured worker wants the second opinion, and the carrier and treating doctor do not. The injured worker can always get a second opinion if he or she is ready to pay for it themselves. The second opinion can be used in litigation, but if the insurance carrier and the treating doctor don’t agree with the recommendations, there is a risk that the workers’ compensation carrier will never need to pay for the second opinion, or for any treatment that doctor does. There is also a chance that the second opinion won’t be favorable to you, and then can be used by the workers compensation carrier to say what treatment you can or can’t have. If you want a second opinion, we suggest speaking with your attorney first about how to best go about getting it.
What if my boss asks me to do a job I can’t do?
If you are working under light duty work restrictions and your employer asks you to do something that would violate your restrictions, remind your employer of them. Make sure they have a copy of the restrictions. If they still insist, get human resources involved (or a union if there is one). If you get hurt again while working outside of your restrictions, the work comp carrier can argue that it is your fault, so be careful of this. Don’t leave work and make it clear that you are willing to work, but within your restrictions. Let your doctor and your work comp attorney know what is happening. If you need more help, contact us at 540-552-2052.