Can you really be Permanently Disabled and Still Work?
It is a question that appears incomprehensible to many workers and employees. Can you really be permanently disabled and still work? The answer is yes. For one, under New Jersey workers’ compensation laws, not all persons found to qualify for permanent disability are totally disabled. This is an important distinction.
Permanent Total Disability
When most people hear the term permanent disability, they are likely thinking it relates to a person who is not able to return to employment. This is true for individuals who are found to be totally and permanently disabled. According to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development injured workers who are found to be totally and permanently disabled, can expect to receive weekly benefits for an initial period of 450 weeks. At the conclusion of that time period, the worker is reevaluated to see if he or she is still unable to work.
Certain Injuries Automatically Qualify for Total Permanent Disability
There is no question that some injuries are devastating and might preclude an individual from earning wages. When an individual has lost two major members or a combination of members of the body, he or she may automatically qualify for permanent and total disability. This would include loss of the following:
- Total blindness caused by one accident
- Loss of more than one extremity, such as the arms, hands, legs or feet
Notwithstanding, an injured worker can be awarded total permanent disability from a combination of a number of medical issues.
Permanent Partial Disability
More than often, when there is confusion concerning permanency for work-related accidents that do not represent total disability claims. If someone breaks a bone or sustains some other seriously injury, he or she likely suffers some permanent residual effects. Arthritic changes may occur with some fractures or pain that never truly subsides.
A doctor retained by the insurance company will evaluate injuries to ascertain the extent of permanent damage caused by the accident. Generally, this doctor is not the same physician who provides medical treatment. This evaluation is not initiated until medical treatment has concluded.
As experienced workers’ compensation attorneys, the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo recognizes the need to retain an expert to determine the extent of your permanency. It is seldom surprising when the doctor chosen by us disagrees with the one selected by the insurance company.
An award for permanent partial disability is sometimes negotiated between the attorneys for the employer/insurance company and the injured worker’s lawyer. These types of settlements require approval by the judge.
If there is a disagreement about the extent of permanency, the judge may make the final decision after listening to testimony from the medical experts. In any case, an award for partial total permanency, does not mean the injured worker is unable to go back to some type of employment.
If you were injured at work, there is no cost to seek legal advice. We are awarded fees after the conclusion of the case. Contact us to discuss your injuries and any permanent disability benefits that may be available to you.