Let’s say you have a workers’ compensation claim in Colorado and your Denver workers’ compensation attorney has worked with you to get you as much help as possible. You’ve gone through the process of healing and your workers’ compensation doctor has placed you at maximum medical improvement after the injury. Your Denver workers’ compensation lawyer and you have discussed the question and you’ve both decided you feel as good as you’re going to and it’s time to wrap up your case. Do you qualify for long-term workers’ compensation disability benefits?
Well, as Denver and Greeley workers’ compensation lawyers know, it’s not a matter of being completely unable to work ever again. Actually, most injured workers eventually return to work, depending on the severity of their injuries and the type of work they return to. For example, if you have a limited ability to work as a result of your work-related injury, you may be eligible to collect long-term disability benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. These beneifts are called permanent disability benefits.
If your medical treatment was good enough to allow you to recover fully from your work-related injuries, however, you will not be able to receive long-term benefits through workers’ compensation.
During your case, you probably enjoyed the benefits that came with workers’ compensation claims. You saw doctors who treated you for your injuries and didn’t have to pay because workers’ compensation covers all care related to workers’ compensation claims. If you miss work for your medical care or as a result of the injury, workers’ compensation reimburses you for 66.66% of your lost wages. This compensation is tax free and based on what you argue is your income prior to the injury. Workers’ compensation also covers travel expenses for workers under compensation claims who need to travel to see their doctors and receive medical care related to the work injury. If you don’t recover fully from the injury, however, workers’ compensation also provides some money to help compensate you for the permanent disability your work injury caused.
To get what’re called permanent disability benefits, you have to be permanently, totally disabled or permanently, partially disabled. Lots of states define permanent total disability as a certain number of injuries which include loss of both hands/feet, paralysis, or permanent loss of sight in the eyes. Permanent total disability is rare so if you qualify for permanent disability benefits through workers’ compensation, they probably fall under the category of permanent partial disability.
Permanent partial disability is defined as a worker not being completely recovered from his or her work-related injury. Each state calculates the amount of permanent disability differently. Generally, though, once a worker reaches what’s called maximum medical improvement, the doctor sets a number to the individual’s injury. This is usually a percentage and meant to symbolize the amount a worker is disabled. The percentage can either be a partial or full body impairment rating and a worker’s final settlement amount often depends highly on this number.
One of the off-putting things about workers’ compensation is definitely this tendency toward numeralizing injury. The system itself seems arbitrary and counter-intuitive. After all, how can you really put a price on your left hand versus your right hand. How can anyone put a price on a limb at all? However, the fact is law requires us to make pragmatic decisions based on systematic, if somewhat arbitrary, factors. These factors are related to what we commonly believe is the approximate numerical value on injuries. Otherwise, how could we systematically help people who need it? The percentage of injury or permanent disability rating is an attempt at making the loss of limb right.
Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at303-780-7329 for your free consultation.