In some cases, work-related injuries cause our clients to become permanently partially disabled, entitling them to a monetary award when their claim is closed. We know that there are challenges and struggles that come with dealing with a permanent disability or impairment. The attorneys at The Walthew Law Firm also understand the importance of properly recognizing all medical conditions arising from an injury or disease.
Accepted medical conditions can result in a permanent partial disability award. Injured workers should receive the maximum compensation available under workers’ compensation laws. We have substantial experience and a successful track record of obtaining fair benefit awards for our clients.
Our attorneys will build a strong claim for benefits based on the facts of your case. Contact our Seattle permanent partial disability attorneys at 206-539-1929 for a free, strictly confidential initial consultation.
PPD Benefits: Understanding the Basics
If you suffered a serious injury at work, you may be awarded payment when your claim is closed. In Washington, job-related closing orders with payment of an award are issued by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and, in some limited cases, by self-insured employers. Known as permanent partial disability (PPD) awards, these benefits are paid to an injured worker who has reached maximum medical improvement, has likely returned to work, but has long-term impairment. Put another way, you are eligible for a PPD award if you remain permanently partially impaired despite the fact that you completed all recommended treatment.
How are PPD Settlements Calculated in Washington?
Workers’ compensation benefits received for permanent partial disability (PPD) are set by law. Loss of function and such things as muscle wasting, permanent nerve damage, or X-ray or MRI findings determine the amount of PPD paid, as rated by a doctor. If there is reason to believe the doctor did not correctly rate permanent impairment, the award can be appealed with the help of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer. Here are two key things to know about how PPD awards are calculated in Washington;
1. Date of Work Injury: Your rate of PPD award is fixed to the schedule of payments in effect at your date of injury. For example, for an injury which occurred on July 1, 2015, your whole body is worth $201,199.53. That means if you have a 10% impairment for your neck injury, you would receive a PPD award of $20,119.95. The Department increases the whole-body value each July 1st, but the PPD award amounts for a 2015 injury will not increase even if your claim is closed in 2020 or later.
2. Disability Rating (Severity of Injury): The severity of your injury and objective medical findings of your impairment are the primary factors that will determine the value of your PPD award. The more significant your medical findings are, the higher your rating should be. As was noted, PPD awards are based on a pre-set “schedule” in Washington. Your disability rating will affect your financial benefits. Do not accept an unfair disability rating.
Washington law is structured to pay PPD awards to compensate injured workers for loss of bodily function. To be clear, PPD is not based on loss of earning capacity nor can you be paid for any pain and suffering. It is crucial that your disability rating is proper so that you can access the maximum available PPD benefit.
What is an Independent Medical Examination and Why Does it Matter?
When you have returned to work following an industrial injury and there is no further treatment, a doctor assesses permanent disability (loss of bodily function). Your claim will be ready for closure. Your attending physician can rate your disability. It is imperative that your doctor provides an accurate and fair disability rating that truly accounts for the severity of your impairments. Your physician’s disability rating should be accepted by L&I or the self-insured employer and will be sufficient to close your claim.
Unfortunately, the process is not always so straightforward. The Department of Labor & Industries or self-insured employer can also schedule a defense medical examination, commonly called an “independent” medical examination or IME. These one-time examining doctors can determine whether or not an injured worker receives a permanent partial disability award for their injuries. IMEs are typically requested by and paid for by L&I or the self-insured employer. They are often biased against injured workers. If there is a conflict between your doctor’s disability rating and the rating assigned during the IME, that issue must be resolved. A top workers’ comp lawyer can help.
You Can Challenge/Appeal an Unfair PPD Award
If you do not agree with your PPD award, you can do something about it. You have the right to challenge the decision by protesting the closing order, in writing, within 60 days of when you receive it. Do not give up on getting the full amount of benefits you deserve simply because you need money now.
Unlike a third-party claim, cashing the PPD check does not prevent appeal of the closing order. It is important, however, that you begin working with an attorney immediately, to prepare the timely protest or appeal (60 days) of the closing order. You do not want to miss out on your opportunity to appeal. Call our Seattle, WA, workers’ comp lawyers for immediate assistance. We will help you find the best path forward.
How Our Washington Workers’ Comp Attorneys Can Help
For a number of different reasons, PPD claims are complicated. Injured workers who have been assigned an unfairly low disability rating or who are otherwise struggling to get access to the full financial support they deserve need a strong advocate in their corner. At The Walthew Law Firm, our Seattle workers’ compensation lawyers are respected by clients and professionals alike. When you reach out to our office, you will speak to an attorney who will:
- Conduct a free, confidential review of your case;
- Answer your questions and explain the claims process;
- Gather all pertinent information and evidence, including medical records; and
- Take legal action to protect your rights and maximize your PPD benefits.
We are committed to providing personalized, proactive legal representation to every client. Our Seattle, WA, workers’ compensation lawyers understand that every PPD claim involves its own unique set of facts and circumstances. We are prepared to put in the time and resources necessary to get you and your family results.