If you've been hurt at work, you can count on workers' comp to take care of your medical bills while you stay home and heal, and usually, you'll be back at work in no time. If your injury is more severe, however, you may be saddled with a permanent work-related injury. This type of injury may not involve your entire body, so you may be able to do some types of work. Read on to learn more about partial permanent disability and workers' comp.
Maximum Medical Improvement
If you have been unable to return to work, you may be asked to be examined by a special workers' comp doctor. This exam will determine whether or not you are dealing with a permanent injury, or just need more time to heal from your work-related injury. If the results of the exam determine that your injury is at a plateau and no further improvement is expected, you will be ruled to be at maximum medical improvement.
This status should not be misunderstood; it doesn't mean that you don't need medical care any longer or that your workers' comp benefits are now ending. On the contrary, it means that you will be qualified for permanent benefits for your permanent injury.
Permanent Partial Injuries
Your special workers' comp examination brings about another ruling, and it concerns the percentage of disability you now have. You can be 100% disabled, or you can be evaluated to be at any percentage point less than 100%. For example, if you are ruled to be at maximum medical improvement and 75% disabled, you have a permanent partial disability.
What to Expect from Workers' Comp
Up until now, you have been receiving a certain portion of your salary. With a permanent disability ruling, you will be offered a settlement. This settlement may be a lump sum, regular payments or a structured settlement.
Additionally, if your disability is ruled to be partial, you may still be able to work. You may be offered the opportunity to work part-time, on light duty or you may be given the opportunity to train for an alternate position. The amount of work you are able to do may reduce your settlement amount.
When you have a permanent disability, whether it be partial or 100%, your ability to make a living is impacted for the rest of your life. You don't automatically have to accept what the workers' comp carrier offers you; all settlements are negotiable. Speak to a workers' compensation attorney about help negotiating:
1. The lump sum amount
2. Future medical needs
3. Rehabilitative training
4. The way the payments are made (monthly, weekly, etc.)
5. And finally, structuring the payments so that you can also get Social Security benefits at the same time.
Speak to a workers' comp attorney for more information and assistance.
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