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Workers Compensation Benefits:

Permanent Partial Disability vs. Permanent Total Disability
Fighting For More Treatment vs. Fighting For Permanent Disability Money

Workers Compensation Benefits: Permanent Disability Benefits

Once a worker injured on the job has completed medical treatment for his work-related injuries, assuming no further medical treatment would do any good to improve his condition he can be said to have reached what doctors call “maximum medical improvement”. Often company-selected treating doctors will find that a worker has reached maximum medical improvement even where in fact further medical treatment could meaningfully improve his medical condition from his injuries. These company doctors will then rate the injured worker for workers compensation benefits and permanent disability.

Such doctors will then often find the worker hurt on the job has either zero permanent disability, a small percentage of permanent disability to the whole body or certain body parts, or permanent total disability. Just because you have been injured on the job does not mean that at the end of your treatment these doctors cannot find you have suffered no permanent disability at all to the injured body parts, meaning you get no permanent disability workers compensation benefits at all. They almost always low-ball your permanent disability rating by finding you suffered a much lower percentage of permanent disability than is really the case. If you choose to accept what the company-selected treating or evaluating doctor has rated you at for permanent disability - and the rating will almost always be lower than the facts of your injury would warrant - then you are sure to get either no money at all or way too little money for permanent disability workers compensation benefits compared to what you really might get if you hired an attorney to fight your case.

After being released from treatment the first thing the worker injured on the job needs to decide, together with the attorney he hires, is whether to fight the workers compensation insurance company for further treatment by using another medical expert to show he needs further treatment. The injured worker could also agree with the company doctors that no further medical treatment would do him any good and then set about trying to settle his case for permanent disability workers compensation benefits. Fighting them costs you money and time, but sometimes you are just left with no choice but to fight in order to get the treatment and workers compensation benefits your injuries deserve. The only way to fight the company doctor is for your workers comp lawyer to send you to a different doctor to re-examine you to get the real facts out.

Workers Compensation Benefits: Permanent Disability

Sometimes the medical expert the injured worker's own attorney sends him to for an independent medical evaluation will decide that he really could benefit from further medical evaluation or treatment. This may or may not include surgery to the parts of the body the injured employee hurt on the job. The injured worker together with his lawyer will then decide whether to fight the insurance company for further treatment based on what their own expert recommended or to forego any further treatment and try to settle their claim for permanent disability workers compensation benefits.

Under Missouri state law the employer (usually as told who to choose by their workers compensation insurance company) gets to select the employee's treating doctor from the very beginning. Even where a workers' comp judge finds the need for and orders employer and their workmans comp insurance to provide the worker hurt on the job with further medical evaluation or treatment, the employer and their insurance company still keep the right to pick the treating doctor.

Fighting For Permanent Disability Workers Compensation Benefits: Partial vs. Total

If the worker decides to settle his claim for permanent disability, he needs to decide which level of permanent disability workers compensation benefits to fight for against the insurance company. The two main types of workers compensation permanent disability benefits available under Missouri law that can get you substantial money benefits include:

  • Permanent Partial Disability
  • Permanent Total Disability

If his work-related injury left him basically unable to perform any normal work, even the most light duty of jobs, then he can fight for permanent total disability. The workers' compensation insurance company will almost always deny, refuse, and fight to prevent him from getting permanent total disability workers compensation benefits because it would cost them a lot more money since the injured worker's total disability would last for the rest of his lifetime.

The vast majority of work-related injuries suffered on the job involve permanent partial disability to parts of the body or the whole body. Some injuries such as back, neck, head or internal organ injuries are called whole body injuries because the disability affects the whole body. Other work injuries to specific body parts on the arms, legs or eyes have lower maximum numbers of weeks assigned by law. Cases where the injured worker can prove his injuries had made him totally permanently disabled are hard to prove, will almost always involve a long legal fight against the insurance company, and are much less common than permanent partial disability cases. The medical and legal facts determine the outcome.

Whether it is a whole body injury such as a neck or back injury or a body part injury such as to the hand, elbow, shoulder, or knee, for permanent partial disability injuries, the maximum number of weeks assigned by the law to the individual body parts injured or the whole body get multiplied by the percentage of disability to the whole body or each individual body part injured. This gives us the number of disability weeks for each aspect of the injury (whole body such as neck or back plus body parts such as shoulder or knee). These weeks are then added up and multiplied by the worker's weekly compensation rate in order to calculate the lump sum workers compensation benefit for permanent disability (partial or total) the injured worker should receive.

Calculating the Workers Compensation Disability Benefits You Should Receive

Missouri Workers Compensation Benefits: Permanent Disability

The worker and his lawyer will try to settle with the insurance company the issue of the lump sum permanent disability workers compensation benefits he should receive. However, if they cannot agree on an overall settlement, they can take the matter of permanent disability before a judge for a full trial. The judge will decide whether and how much permanent disability money the worker deserves for his work injuries.

This permanent disability compensation rate your disability will be paid at for each week of disability is usually the same rate as for temporary disability workers compensation benefits when the employee cannot work on doctor's orders after and due to the accident-caused injuries. It is based on the employee's average weekly gross earnings for approximately a three-month period (13 weeks) before the accident times two-thirds. The compensation rate for permanent partial disability will never be higher than the weekly temporary off-work disability rate.

Permanent disability workers compensation benefits will usually be paid at the same weekly compensation rate as your temporary off-work benefits, except for very high earning workers whose weekly permanent partial disability benefits will be capped at a rate only just above half his very high temporary total weekly disability payments. However, if the worker can prove permanent total disability preventing him from returning to any kind of work, his weekly rate for permanent total disability workers compensation benefits will not be capped and be just as high as his weekly rate for temporary off-work (temporary total) disability benefits while waiting to return to work.

Often the workers compensation insurance will fight you over just about everything in an effort to save money: whether your injuries were mainly work-related in the first place; whether you deserve any temporary off-work benefits while waiting to return to work and at what weekly compensation rate; whether you need further treatment after the company-selected doctor releases you; whether you have suffered any permanent disability at all from your work injuries to what parts of your body and for how many weeks of permanent disability to each body part or the whole body; and what weekly permanent disability compensation rate you should be paid at for all your weeks of permanent disability. Therefore, you need a good lawyer fighting at your side every step of the way.

Learn More About Workers Compensation Benefits in St. Louis

The last thing you should be worried about is how you are going to make ends meet while you are injured and out of work. Insurance companies have workers compensation lawyers working against you and fighting to ensure you receive as little workers compensation benefits as possible. If you have been injured on the job, you need experienced legal representation on your side that will help you understand the laws, get you accurate medical evaluation and treatment to fight the misinformation of the company-selected doctors, and help you receive the maximum workers compensation benefits to which you can prove you are entitled. Contact Attorney Tom Hyatt at St. Louis Workers' Compensation Center for more information on workers comp and for a free review of your case. We proudly serve the entire St. Louis area including St. Louis City or County, St. Charles, Warren, Lincoln, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve County, or any other county in eastern Missouri.

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Mission Statement

Our Mission is to provide the highest quality legal services for our clients injured on the job. We forcefully use the power of Missouri law to help them fight to equalize all the unfair advantages the law gives employers and insurers. The law enables them to easily deny or minimize your medical treatment, lost pay and permanent disability money it only potentially gives you by placing on you the burden of proving your right to all denied benefits.

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