Virginia Permanent Total Disability Benefits Attorneys
The impact of any work-related injury may seem overwhelming, but when it causes total and permanent disability, the effect on you and your family can be emotionally and financially devastating. The trauma from the injury is bad enough, but you also have to cope with the loss of income. Most households are dependent on every penny of each contributor’s wages. When one of those sources is taken away, it is stressful and daunting to figure out how to pay the bills.
So what happens when you can never work again? [Firm-name] is here to help you work through this adversity. Our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys have the knowledge and experience to handle your permanent total disability claim and give you the best chance to receive the maximum benefits you are owed.
Eligibility for Permanent Total Disability
The term “permanent total disability” has a specific definition under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If your workplace accident causes this type of disability, you are entitled to wage loss benefits for the rest of your life.
Under Virginia Code Section 65.2-503(C), an injured worker may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits when the injuries are defined as follows:
- The loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or any two of these body parts in the same work accident;
- An injury that results in total paralysis, as determined by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission; or,
- A brain injury that is traumatic and severe enough to render the worker permanently unable to qualify for gainful employment.
It is important to understand that the Workers’ Compensation Commission views the terms “loss of” and “loss of use” as the same. Even if you don’t lose the body part entirely but have lost the ability to use it, you can be eligible for permanent and total disability benefits.
A loss of an injured worker’s body part does not have to be a total loss to be considered for these benefits. This means you may still be able to use an arm or a leg for daily living tasks, but you cannot use it for a sustained period of time to perform the kind of work you had been suited to do.
Proving Permanent Total Disability
In order to get this type of Virginia workers’ compensation benefits, you must prove that your injury caused permanent total disability. Typically you will not be considered for this until your doctor determines that continued treatment will most likely not significantly improve your condition. This is referred to as maximum medical improvement (MMI).
There is no set time that you have to reach MMI, and it can vary. Some people reach MMI within a few weeks or months after the injury, but it can take years for others who have prolonged treatment or recovery from surgery. Once you have reached MMI, the doctor can recommend that you be evaluated for an impairment rating.
Medical Impairment Ratings
Obtaining a medical impairment rating is the main way to support your permanent total disability case. The level of damage from your work injury is evaluated by a licensed medical professional and turned into a percentage rating. This impairment rating is how your permanent disability payments are calculated and will help your attorney evaluate the appropriate settlement amount. You typically need a permanent impairment rating of 50% or more in at least two body parts to qualify for permanent and total disability benefits.
Vocational Expert Testimony
To supplement the impairment rating from your medical professional, it is also a good idea to have a vocational rehabilitation counselor who can provide expert testimony and help establish that you have suffered a permanent total disability. The expert can provide opinions in these areas:
- Analyze any work restrictions to find the types of occupations that have to be ruled out due to the injury.
- Explain why you may be very limited in employment because of how difficult it would be to transition to a position that requires skills you are not equipped for.
- Give opinions about how long potential retraining would take and whether it would be successful.
- Address issues concerning your ability to do even light labor due to varied physical restrictions.
- Provide conclusions about how likely you are to be able to return to the workforce.
Receiving Permanent Total Disability Benefits
Permanent total disability is not granted until you reach the 500 weeks maximum temporary disability benefits, but you may be able to get a workers’ compensation hearing to claim permanent and total disability before the 500 weeks is exhausted.
You may also qualify for Social Security Administration benefits, and you can receive them at the same time as workers’ compensation benefits, but there is a catch. The total amount an injured worker receives from Social Security combined with the workers’ compensation benefits cannot exceed 80% of the average pre-injury wages. If it does, the Social Security benefits will be cut back to bring the total to the 80% level.
Once you are granted permanent disability, the insurance company will start sending you checks for your benefits as required by law. If we can reach a settlement for your permanent total disability case, there is also the possibility of receiving a lump sum amount of money at one time instead of getting payments on a weekly basis.
How We Will Help You
CHASENBOSCOLO will make a difference in the outcome of your permanent total disability claim. With over 25 years of experience helping people who have been injured on the job, we know how the system works. We can foresee when an insurance company will want to contest your claim and will always be ready to stand up for you.
Don’t allow the confusing workers’ compensation rules to get the best of you. Our Virginia workers’ compensation lawyers can start working for you today. Just call us at (703) 538-1138 or contact us online.