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|
|Loss of vision in one eye||100 weeks|
|Loss of hearing in one ear||50 weeks|
|Index finger||35 weeks|
|Middle finger||30 weeks|
|Ring finger||20 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|
|First stage of pneumonocniosis||50 weeks|
There are deadlines for you or your attorney to file a permanent impairment claim. If you were only awarded medical benefits by the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission but not temporary total or temporary partial wage replacement benefits, the statute of limitations for filing a claim for permanent partial disability benefits is three years from your date of accident.
If you were awarded wage replacement benefits by the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, the statute of limitations for filing a permanent impairment claim is three years from the date you last received wage replacement benefits under the Commission’s award order.
If you have questions on permanent impairment or workers compensation benefits, call us. The initial consultation is free, so there is no risk in talking to us about your claim and how we may be able to help you.