Workers Compensation and Permanent Disability: How Are These Cases Evaluated?

Have you or someone you know been injured at work and wonder if you can get compensation for it? Many workers who suffer serious injuries may qualify for workers compensation and even permanent disability benefits.

A Tampa workers compensation attorney can evaluate your case to determine what kind of benefits you qualify for. And below, let’s take a look at the key factors claims adjusters and judges consider when rating permanent disability and approving benefits

What Is Permanent Disability in Workers Compensation?

Permanent disability is an injury resulting in a permanent impairment lasting longer than two years. It means that the injured worker has suffered a loss of bodily function that cannot be fully reversed through treatment or surgery.

Partial or total permanent disability benefits are available if a worker’s injury causes a measurable loss of physical or mental function that reduces their future earning capacity.

To qualify for permanent disability benefits in workers comp, the injury must meet certain criteria:

  • The injury must arise out of the employee’s work. It must have occurred while performing job duties or on the employer’s premises.
  • The injury must cause an actual physical or mental impairment that reduces the employee’s ability to perform work tasks or find work in the future. Pain alone is typically not enough to qualify.
  • The impairment must be considered “permanent,” meaning it has lasted (or is expected to last) at least two years.
  • The injury must be evaluated and rated by a physician or agreed upon by the claims adjuster. This rating assigns a percentage of disability based on standardized tables.
  • The employee’s future earning capacity must likely be reduced as a result of the impairment. This may be determined based on factors like the employee’s occupation, skills, education level, and work history.

How Permanent Disability Ratings Are Determined

In Florida, permanent disability ratings are determined using the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. This guide provides criteria for evaluating different types of impairments based on physical exams, test results, and activities of daily living.

some workplace injuries lead to permanent impairment

A doctor will examine you to determine an impairment rating based on the AMA Guides. Factors like loss of range of motion, loss of strength, and loss of sensation are used to assign an impairment percentage. For example, loss of range of motion in your wrist may be worth 5% to 10% impairment.

In addition to the medical impairment rating, vocational factors are considered to determine the overall disability rating. Your age, education, past work history, transferable skills, and job market are evaluated by vocational experts to determine how your injury impacts your ability to find work.

Factors That Influence Permanent Disability Ratings

The severity of your permanent disability depends on several factors. The insurance company will evaluate the nature of your injury, your age and occupation, and your ability to return to work.

Nature of Injury

The more severe your injury, the higher your permanent disability rating is likely to be. Injuries that cause loss of range of motion or require surgery typically have higher ratings. Conditions like back injuries, loss of limbs, or damage to internal organs often result in high ratings. Minor sprains, strains, and fractures usually have lower ratings.

Age and Occupation

Your age and occupation at the time of injury also factor into your rating. Older workers and those with physically demanding jobs are typically given higher ratings. This is because severe injuries may make it difficult to continue in those occupations.

Ability to Work

Your permanent disability rating depends heavily on whether your injury prevents you from returning to work. If you can go back to your pre-injury job without restrictions, your rating will likely be on the lower end.

Reach out To An Experienced Tampa Workers Compensation Lawyer

If you’ve suffered an injury at work, don’t wait to get help. Reach out to an experienced workers compensation lawyer in Tampa as soon as possible. At Florida Lawyers 360, our dedicated lawyers know Florida’s workers comp system inside and out.

We can evaluate your claim, determine if your employer’s insurance company is treating you fairly, and fight for the benefits you deserve. Call us today at (786) 249-7999 for a free consultation.

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