Being injured is a terrible thing. Not only do you have to deal with the physical pain, you also have to deal with the reduced capacity caused by the injury. When you are injured, you simply can’t do the things that you are normally able to do. In a situation like this, all you want to do is get better. Sometimes though, injuries are so severe that the person injured never really recovers. They will always be operating at a reduced capacity. They will never again be the person they were before they were injured. In law and medicine, this condition is called a permanent disability.
Every injury causes the victim pain and suffering. For an individual who has been disabled as a result of an injury, that pain and suffering may last a lifetime. Under California law, an injured worker cannot be awarded monetary compensation for the pain and suffering caused by an on-the-job injury. Instead, California’s workers' compensation laws are specifically designed to cover situations where an on-the-job injury results in a permanent disability.
The level of permanent disability caused by a workplace injury is measured on a scale from 0% to 100%. Someone with 0% permanent disability has no permanent disability from their injuries. On the other hand, someone with 100% permanent disability is considered totally disabled. Everyone else who is neither fully recovered nor totally disabled as a result of their injuries is considered partially disabled. Therefore, there are two types of permanent disability benefits available to an injured worker – total permanent disability benefits, for those workers who 100% disabled, and partial permanent disability benefits for those workers who suffer from a disability that is less than total.
If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident, your primary concern is to get better. The sooner you recover, the sooner you can get on with living your life. Your doctor is the person who will prescribe treatments for your injury. These treatments are designed to get you back on your feet in the shortest possible time. However, as we have seen, some injuries are so profound that the victim will never fully recover from their effects, no matter the treatment. If the on-the job injury that you’ve suffered is this extreme then you will, at some point, reach a plateau in your treatment. At this point, there will be nothing further that your doctor can do to aid in your recovery. You will be forced to live the remainder of your life at a limited capacity, unable to perform tasks or take part in activities that once were normal. You may also be facing a certain amount of constant pain and discomfort. Under the law, you are entitled to be compensated for these disabilities. In order to get every penny that you deserve, you need an attorney experienced in permanent disability benefits, like those at the law firm of Fraulob-Brown, in your corner.
Your attorney will ask your doctor to write a report detailing the nature of your injuries and the details of your treatment. More importantly, the report will also contain your doctor’s prognosis of your condition, specifically stating that your recovery from your injuries has reached a plateau and further treatment will have no effect. The report will establish that, in your doctor’s professional opinion, your condition is permanent and stationary and that you have reached maximum medical improvement.
In the report your doctor will also offer an opinion as to whether any other factors, besides your injury, have contributed to your condition. If such factors exist, your doctor will estimate how much of your disability can be attributed to your injury and how much can be attributed to outside causes. This process is called apportionment and it is expressed as a percentage of your whole disability. For example, your doctor might decide that 75% of your disability is due to your injury and 25% is due to conditions or behaviors that existed before you were injured.
Finally, your doctor will “rate” your level of disability by offering an opinion on how much you have lost normal use of the affected parts of your body. The doctor is required by law to use guidelines established by the American Medical Association when rating your impairment.
After review of the report, your attorney will forward a copy to the administrator in charge of your claim. At this point, pending acceptance of the disability rating by all parties involved, you would be qualified for permanent disability benefits.
The amount of money that you receive as a result of being found permanently disabled is set by California workers' compensation law. The total amount depends on several factors, including the nature of the injury that resulted in disability, the rating of your disability, the existence of an apportioning factor (if any), the date of your injury and the amount of your wages before you were injured.
In general, a more severe injury with a higher disability rating will allow you to obtain greater benefits. Likewise, a less severe injury with a lower disability rating will receive fewer benefits. Furthermore, the existence of apportioning factors that contributed to the disability will lower the benefit amount regardless of severity or rating.
Each of these factors is variable, subject to human interpretation and potential error. This is why having a competent and experienced workers' compensation attorney, like the attorneys at the law firm of Fraulob-Brown, representing your interests is crucial. Our attorneys will work tirelessly on your behalf, making sure that you receive the highest possible disability rating for your injury so that you receive the highest possible disability benefits. We will use our knowledge of California’s workers' compensation laws to negotiate the best settlement of your claim. If an adequate settlement isn’t possible, we will present your claim to the workers' compensation judge and fight for the best possible award on your behalf. We understand what adequate compensation means to you and your loved ones. That’s why we won’t quit until you receive every benefit you deserve.