One of the types of workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers in Georgia is called permanent partial disability benefits. Injured workers in our state become entitled to permanent partial disability benefits if certain circumstances apply in their case.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Under Georgia law, nearly every employer in the state is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance policy provides coverage for work accidents and allows injured workers to obtain a variety of benefits—including payment of their medical bills related to the injury and compensation for the time needed off of work to recover from their work injury.
Georgia Lawyers for Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
If you were recently injured at work, the best way to ensure that you receive your maximum workers’ compensation benefits is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle your case. At Gearhart Law Group, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers.
Attorney Beth Gearhart and her legal team have many years of experience successfully obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers in the state of Georgia. If you recently suffered a work-related injury or illness, we would be happy to talk to you to learn more about your workers’ compensation claim. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at our office and begin the process of getting the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve.
Is My Injury Permanent If My Condition Stops Improving with Medical Treatment?
At some point in time, while receiving medical care for your work injury, your treating doctor might determine that your injury is permanent in nature. While this might be expected for certain severe injuries, it can also be the case for injuries that initially seemed to be minor.
Your treating doctor might conclude that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” status (often referred to as “MMI”), even if you feel that you have still not fully healed from your work injury. Unfortunately, in some cases, injured workers will never be able to return to their former (pre-injury) physical condition.
A treating doctor will declare an injured worker as having reached MMI status once they have received the maximum benefit that reasonable medical treatment can accomplish. If your doctor has concluded that you are at maximum medical improvement, but you are still unable to perform your usual work duties, you could be found permanently disabled.
If My Work Injury Is Permanent, Will I Still Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
In the event that your authorized treating doctor determines that your work injury is permanent, you are still entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If your doctor reaches this conclusion while you are unable to work and receiving temporary total disability benefits, you are still eligible to continue receiving this benefit.
However, if your work injury occurred on or after July 1, 1992, and is considered a non-catastrophic injury, you should keep in mind that there is a limit of 400 weeks of benefits (calculated from the initial date of injury). For catastrophic injuries, there is no limit on how long temporary total disability benefits will be paid out.
If you are unsure of whether your work injury is considered to be catastrophic, your workers’ compensation lawyer can help. When you are able to return to work, you are eligible for a weekly income benefit that is based on your permanent disability rating as calculated by your treating physician.
What Are Permanent Partial Disability Benefits?
Permanent partial disability benefits are designed to be paid to compensate an injured worker for the loss of partial use of the injured body part or for the impairment suffered to the person as a whole. This benefit is paid regardless of your income or wage rate.
One thing to keep in mind regarding the calculation of permanent partial disability benefits is that there is a maximum of weeks allowed depending on the injured body part. If your injury causes a complete loss of use of a specific body part, you might be eligible to receive benefits for the full maximum number of weeks. For example, for a total loss of your arm or your leg, you may be eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits for 225 weeks.
Will I Receive Permanent Partial Disability Benefits If My Work Injury Is Permanent?
If your treating physician believes your injury to be permanent, he or she will conduct an assessment to determine the extent of your permanent disability. This evaluation will be performed by your doctor, who will use the current American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines to assess the extent of your disability, established as a percentage.
The permanent disability percentage calculated by your doctor using the AMA Guidelines is used in a mathematical formula along with your temporary total disability benefit rate, which is used to calculate the amount of your permanent partial disability benefit if you are eligible. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand more about this calculation and give you an idea of what to expect going forward.
What Will Happen If I Was Found to Be At MMI, but I Believe I Still Need Medical Care for My Work Injury?
Whether or not any further medical treatment can be included in your workers’ compensation case depends on a few different factors. For work injuries that occurred on or prior to June 30, 2013, injured workers are entitled to lifetime medical benefits.
If your injury occurred on or after the date of July 1, 2013, then you will be limited to a maximum of 400 weeks of medical treatment. This 400-week time period begins on the initial date that your injury happened. However, as with other types of workers’ compensation benefits, catastrophic work injuries do not have a limit for medical treatment.
There might also be certain limitations on future medical treatment for your work injury if your case has already been settled. Your Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand any limitations regarding future medical treatment as it pertains to your own workers’ compensation case.