Permanent and Total Disability Benefits
A work-related injury can occur in a variety of ways, ranging from sudden events like car accidents on the job to injuries that arise from prolonged, repetitive activities or even mental illnesses caused by a job. If you have been injured on the job, there are certain steps that you can take to ensure that you protect your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation system was started to ensure that injured employees receive the compensation that they need after becoming hurt on the job. Unfortunately, some people find themselves in situations in which they cannot work again, which may entitle them to permanent and total disability benefits. At Donaldson & Weston, our Stuart workers’ compensation lawyers have handled a wide variety of claims on behalf of injured employees in Martin and St. Lucie Counties, and we are ready to assist you.Pursuing Permanent and Total Disability Benefits
The first step in securing your rights to benefits is to notify your employer that you have been injured at work. The employer must then initiate a claim with its insurance carrier. According to Florida law, any employer with four or more employees, including part-time and half-time workers, must pay for a workers’ compensation insurance policy. The insurer will assign a claims adjuster to your case. The next step involves undergoing a medical examination by an approved physician. This is a critical aspect of securing your right to benefits.
During the examination, the doctor will assess your injury, medical history, and other factors that may affect your recovery, such as whether your injury is an aggravation of a pre-existing condition. There are two different metrics that the physician will use to evaluate your injury. First, the doctor will determine the extent of your injury, which means assessing whether it is a partial injury or a total injury affecting your entire body or health. Also, the doctor will determine whether the injury is temporary or permanent. The answers to these questions will then be used to determine the amount of weekly benefits that you are entitled to receive. The amount is calculated using a pre-determined formula that involves assessing your average weekly wage and providing a certain percentage of that amount.
The most severe type of injury that you can suffer is a permanent and total disability. In this instance, the injury affects your entire well-being and is unlikely to resolve in the future. For victims of this type of injury, future work prospects may be grim, and the employee may be prevented from ever returning to their normal occupation. According to Florida Statutes section 440.15, permanent and total disability benefits are the only form of long-term benefit payments available to injured workers. To qualify for this type of benefit payment, the injured worker must have sustained an injury specified in a scheduled list of injuries provided in the statute. Examples of enumerated injuries include spinal cord injuries resulting in severe paralysis, severe episodic neurological disorders, and severe burns.
Alternatively, the employee can qualify by demonstrating that they are unable to participate in even sedentary employment within a 50-mile radius of their residence. The employee’s eligibility to recover permanent and total disability benefits is established after they have reached a status known as maximum medical improvement. Florida laws define this term as the time at which the employee reaches a point at which they are not expected to make a further recovery or lasting improvement from the injury or disease. If you have not suffered a permanent and total injury, you can still qualify for other benefit programs, such as partial disability benefits.Seek Guidance from a Dedicated Work Injury Attorney in the Stuart Area
Understanding whether you qualify for permanent and total disability benefits can be a confusing and drawn-out process unless you have a lawyer to guide you. Since the determination is not made until after you have started receiving medical treatment, many severely injured employees are forced to wait to find out whether they will receive adequate compensation to accommodate their injuries in the future. At Donaldson & Weston, we know how stressful this situation is for an employee. The last thing that you should need to handle during this time is the complex workers’ compensation system. Serving people in Port St. Lucie, Jupiter, Stuart, and other areas of Martin and St. Lucie Counties, our attorneys offer a free consultation so that you can learn more about whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Call us now at 772-266-5555 or contact us online to get started.