Workers’ Compensation & Permanent Disability

Posted by & filed under Law News.

It is thankfully rare, but it does happen that when you are injured on the job, it can result in permanent disability. There are provisions in workers’ compensation law in most states for such an eventuality, though it can be a complex process to access them. If you have been permanently disabled by an on the job injury, it may be in your best interest to consult an attorney.

What Am I Entitled To?

There are two types of permanent disability recognized in South Carolina workers’ compensation law. The first, partial (often referred to in shorthand as PPD), makes up the majority of state claims for disabilities resulting from on the job injuries, simply because anything not defined as a total disability is often classified as a partial disability – though not always. If you are deemed to have suffered a partial incapacity to work as a result of an on the job injury, you are eligible to receive compensation (the formula that can get quite complex, but roughly equates to roughly 66% of any difference between your pre- and post-injury wages in most cases) for up to 340 weeks.

The second type is total permanent disability (TPD), and it is more rare, both because of infrequency and also because the definition used by the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) is quite narrow. While claims are considered on a case-by-case basis, the statute states that to be considered totally and permanently disabled, a worker must have lost both of your hands, feet, arms, legs, or vision in both eyes (or a combination thereof, such as one hand and the vision in one eye). If you are held to be TPD, you are eligible in most cases to receive benefits for up to 500 weeks. Those deemed to be paraplegic, quadriplegic or brain damaged are generally eligible to receive lifetime benefits in similar amounts.

The Informal Conference

The main method by which most people are classified as PPD or TPD (if anything) is via the informal conference. While sometimes, employers and employees differ on the degree of an injury, most are able to sit down civilly and work out an agreement. If you and your employer are generally on the same page regarding your injury, the next step is to schedule an informal conference with the SCWCC and a representative of your employer’s insurance company, so that the specific mechanics of the claim may be discussed.

Generally, most agreements of this type set out four things: the disability or impairment rating of the employee, the amount due to them in compensation for their injury, and the rights and responsibilities of the employee afterward. For example, it is generally included in these agreements that an employee will not be compensated for intangible damages such as pain and suffering, given that by law workers’ compensation does not address such claims. On the off-chance that the informal conference ends in stalemate, your claim will automatically then be set for a hearing in front of a commissioner.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

Sustaining a life-changing injury can be a psychological and practical nightmare. Having an experienced legal professional on your side to help handle the most integral part of the process can make a difference in your overall quality of life as well as your outcome. The knowledgeable North Charleston workers’ compensation attorneys at Callihan & Syracuse have years of experience in these cases, and are happy to share what they have learned with you. Contact us today to set up a free initial appointment.