Virginia Permanent Partial Disability Claims Attorneys
If you are suffering from a permanent, partial disability caused by a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation. All Virginia workplaces with more than two employees are legally required to have workers’ compensation insurance in order to help pay their employees’ expenses in the event that they are injured on the job. Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated. It’s highly recommended that you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer at the very beginning of your claim process.
You become eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits once a doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means that your doctor believes it’s very unlikely your condition will improve, even with further medical treatment. Your compensation amount is then calculated using a formula based on the type of injury, the severity of injury, and the amount of money you were making before your injury.
Hiring an experienced permanent partial disability attorney is imperative to maximize your overall compensation. The insurance company that handles your claim will likely take every step they can to give you the least compensation possible. You can contact CHASENBOSCOLO today at (703) 538-1138 to set up a 100% free consultation. Tell us about your situation and we can start making a legal plan.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer for My Permanent Partial Disability Claim?
Workers’ compensation claims are notoriously complex. There are often strict filing deadlines, and mistakes in the application process can jeopardize your claim. With a PPD claim, you will be seeking compensation from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. These insurance companies hire teams of lawyers who find any way possible to reduce or deny your claim. Many insurance companies claim that your injuries are not as severe as you or your doctor say they are. An experienced PPD lawyer will have the resources and expertise to stand up to adverse insurance companies.
You should not accept any monetary settlements from an insurance company before consulting a lawyer. An insurance company might offer you a settlement in exchange for you dropping your PPD claim. When you accept a settlement, you will sign an agreement that releases the insurance company from any further payments. This closes your claim, and means that the insurance company will not cover any more medical care or lost wages. Taking a settlement might be the right choice for you, depending on your situation, or it may be better to pursue a PPD claim. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will work closely with you to determine your best path forward.
Why Should I Choose CHASENBOSCOLO?
CHASENBOSCOLO has been fighting for workers’ rights since 1986. We always prioritize the interests of our clients, who we treat like family. We have a very successful track record and have won hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients, including $2.5 million dollars for a worker who fell from a building and needed to have his right leg amputated. We prepare all of our cases to go to trial, which shows insurance companies that we are serious and not willing to accept low-ball settlement offers.
We understand that many people worry that hiring a lawyer will be too expensive. At CHASENBOSCOLO, we offer our No Fee Guarantee to ensure that anyone can have access to our services, regardless of their financial situation. With this guarantee, we offer a free consultation, in which you can tell us about your situation and ask us any questions, while we give you an idea of your options. We also work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will have no attorney-related fees unless we win your case. At the end of your case, we take a percentage of your overall compensation. If we don’t win your case, then you don’t owe us any money. If you would like to set up your free consultation, please give us a call at (703) 538-1138.
Permanent Partial Disability
Virginia law defines a permanent partial disability as a lasting impairment that affects your capacity to perform daily tasks and carry out job responsibilities. A permanent total disability, on the other hand, would completely eliminate your ability to carry out such tasks. For example, a permanent partial disability could be the loss of one hand, while a permanent total disability would be the loss of both hands. Permanent partial disabilities include the following:
- Loss of one limb (arm or leg)
- Loss of one extremity or digit (hands, feet, fingers, toes)
- Loss of vision in one eye
- Loss of hearing in one ear
- Severe disfigurement
- Pneumoconiosis, which is a lung disease caused by inhaling dust particles that damage the lungs. It causes coughing and inflammation, and can lead to damaged and scarred lungs. It results from exposure to materials like silica and coal dust, which are often present in Virginia mines.
- Byssinosis, which is another type of lung disease. It is caused by the prolonged inhalation of textile fiber dust, like hemp, flex, and cotton. It is also called brown lung disease or mill fever.
Virginia law states that “loss” does not refer only to physical separation from the body, but also loss of use. For example, if you become paralyzed in one leg, this would count as a permanent partial disability.
Importantly, there are many injuries for which Virginia law does not award PPD benefits, such as brain, neck, and back injuries. You can only receive PPD benefits for such injuries if they cause permanent impairment to one of the body parts listed above. If your back injury caused paralysis of your lower body, then you would qualify for PPD benefits.
What Is the Process for Receiving PPD Benefits?
You become eligible for PPD benefits once you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means that your injury is still disabling, but there is no reasonable expectation that you can heal further. Some injuries reach MMI within weeks or months, while some can take years. If your injuries qualify, you can become eligible for PPD benefits regardless of when your injuries reach MMI. You will need medical documentation from your treating doctor, establishing that you have reached MMI.
Once you reach MMI, your doctor or physical therapist will conduct a thorough examination in order to rate the functionality of your injured body part. They will then assign an impairment rating, which is essentially the percentage of functionality that has been lost. For example, an injury that resulted in a total amputation of a hand would receive a 100% impairment rating.
The impairment rating is extremely important in calculating your overall PPD benefits. Insurance companies often try to argue that the impairment rating your doctor assigned was biased and inflates the severity of your injury. The insurance company may hire another doctor to examine you and assign their own impairment rating.
If you are assigned two different impairment ratings, then you will go to a hearing with the deputy commissioner of the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission. The deputy commissioner will either average the two ratings or decide that one rating is more persuasive and reject the other impairment rating.
PPD benefits are calculated by multiplying three elements together:
1. Two-thirds of the employee’s weekly pre-injury salary
If an employee’s pre-injury weekly salary was $900, the new salary to be used in the PPD calculation would be $600.
2. The injury’s impairment rating
This is the degree of functionality that remains after MMI
3. The number of weeks of benefits associated with the injury type
According to Virginia law, the amount of time for which you are compensated depends on what body part you injured. Here are some of the compensation periods:
- Thumb: up to 60 weeks of PPD
- Hand: up to 150 weeks of PPD
- Arm: up to 200 weeks of PPD
- Leg: up to 175 weeks of PPD
- Permanent loss of vision in one eye: 100 weeks of PPD
- Permanent loss of hearing in one ear: 50 weeks of PPD
For a complete list of losses and compensation periods, you can consult Virginia statute 65.2-503.
Consider this example: you injured your arm in a workplace accident, and your doctor assigns your injury a 50% impairment rate. Before your injury, your weekly salary was $900. To calculate your PPD benefits, you would multiply 200 (number of weeks associated with arm injuries) by .5 (your impairment rating) by 600 (two-thirds of your pre-injury wage). Your total PPD benefit would be $60,000.
You can see from this example why your impairment rating is so important. Compensation periods and your pre-injury salary are fixed, so your impairment rating is the biggest variable that affects your compensation amount. This is one of the major reasons that hiring a PPD workers’ compensation lawyer is critical in getting the highest amount of compensation possible. An experienced PPD lawyer will know how to fight insurance companies when they try to diminish your impairment rating.
At CHASENBOSCOLO, we know how profoundly permanent partial disability can affect you and your family. We are passionate about helping our injured clients and committed to using every legal tool available to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
Permanent partial disability workers’ compensation claims are complicated, and involve many steps and competing interests. We are more than happy to answer any questions you have about your case. Give us a call today at (703) 538-1138 to schedule your free consultation, and we can give you an idea of your best path forward.