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Work Injuries: A Brief Look at Permanent Partial Disability vs. Permanent Total Disability

On-the-job injuries require a great deal of paperwork and negotiation between the injured employee and the employer. During the course of these negotiations, many different terms will be used to describe specific conditions, injuries and coverage limitations. If you have been injured at your job and are unable to return to work for an extended period of time, or you have limited abilities due to your injuries, you should know what terms do and do not apply to your specific situation.

Permanent disability refers to any type of injury that is going to permanently affect an employee’s ability to perform not only his or her day-to-day job responsibilities but could also affect how the individual lives his or her life. Within this category, there are two subtypes: permanent partial disability and permanent total disability, both of which will be discussed below.

It is important to understand the difference between permanent partial disability and permanent total disability. The amount of compensation you are entitled to receive and the time that you are allowed to spend away from work while still receiving compensation are measured by these conditions. Depending on where your situation falls on the spectrum, you may be allowed to fully recover from your injuries before you are expected to go back to work, or you may be forced to return a little early to stay within your company’s workers’ compensation requirements.

These requirements, as well as how your injuries correlate with them, are determined by a standardized system against which your doctor rates your disability and injuries and assesses how your treatment should progress.

Permanent Partial Disability

Permanent partial disability refers to injuries sustained that are serious in nature but not totally incapacitating. An employee who is permanently partially disabled typically can return to work, but only at a modified level which can sometimes result in earning a lower pay rate. To compensate an employee for this disability, an employer will calculate the amount of benefits the employee is entitled to based on a schedule that corresponds to the employee’s injury and the state’s guidelines.

In some cases, however, a workplace injury doesn’t necessarily correlate with the schedule method and employers have to use a different method to calculate compensation. The degree of impairment is a significant factor here. The process of determining permanent partial disability benefits typically begins once an employee reaches his or her maximum medical improvement, as determined by the physician.

Permanent Total Disability

Permanent total disability indicates a complete loss of abilities due to a workplace injury or health condition. Each state has different criteria for what constitutes “permanent and total disability,” but most cover similar factors — a loss of specific body parts, total paralysis, brain injury, or mental incapacity, and you are unable to work.

With permanent total disability status, you typically receive a lifetime pension from your former employer. Each state has criteria for awarding lifetime pensions to injured employees, but most pension plans come with permanent disability benefits.

At Levine Law, we represent anyone who has suffered an injury or a health condition as a result of an employer’s negligence. For more information regarding disability distinctions and workers’ compensation cases, contact a Denver injury attorney at Levine Law today.

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