According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a worker is injured once every seven seconds in the United States. For those who have been hurt on the job, workers’ compensation insurance provides much-needed benefits: it covers injured workers’ medical care and offers financial support until they can return to work.
In most cases, injured workers make a full recovery and are eventually able to return to their previous position. However, that is not always the case. Some job-related injuries result in lifelong permanent partial impairment. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) awards compensate workers for these types of injuries.
Permanent Partial Disability claims are complex. Our Seattle disability attorneys can maximize the value of permanent partial disability awards. Outlined in this article are the most important things that you need to know about Permanent Partial Disability awards in Washington.
Who is Eligible for a PPD Award?
Permanent Partial Disability awards compensate workers who remain permanently partially impaired as a result of their injuries despite all recommended treatment.
How Long Will it Take to Receive My Award?
PPD will not be awarded until an injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement. Once doctors determine that treatment is concluded, the injured worker may be compensated for permanent partial impairments.
The schedule of payments regarding PPD awards will depend on the amount of the award. Small PPD awards will typically be paid out as a lump sum. Larger PPD awards are paid as one large payment followed by monthly installments until the full amount is paid to the worker.
How Do You Calculate a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Award?
In Washington State, permanent partial disability is intended to compensate the injured worker for loss of function. It is not designed to compensate for the loss of earning capacity. There is no award for pain and suffering.
The amount of the permanent partial disability award is based on the date of the injury and the percentage of permanent impairment. For reference, Washington State Department of Labor & Industries publishes the full PPD award schedule based on the date of injury. Impairments may be based on the specific body part injured or may be based on a category of impairment. Impairments for arms, legs, hands, fingers, toes, eyes and hearing loss are assigned monetary values based on the date of injury. A doctor assigns a percentage of impairment for the specific body part injured. The percentage of impairment is then multiplied by the monetary value of the body part to arrive at the PPD award. Other impairments are assessed using a broader category of impairment which is similarly used to calculate the amount of the PPD award. Examples include impairments of the back, neck, psychological impairments, respiratory, skin, digestive system, bladder, spleen, and many other categories.
The Permanent Partial Disability percentage must be rated by a doctor, the attending physician is preferred. However, frequently an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) selected by the Department of Labor and Industries or the self-insured employer will perform the rating examination.
If an IME performs the rating examination, your doctor should have the opportunity to review that medical report and offer comments. If your doctor disagrees with the findings of the independent medical exam or the disability rating, it is imperative that immediate action is taken to protect your rights. A disability rating that is too low will reduce the value of your award.
Can You Appeal a PPD Award in Washington?
If you believe that your PPD award is too low, you have the right to seek additional compensation provided the order is protested or appealed on time. In order to increase the award, the percentage of impairment must be increased. If you believe that your disability rating is too low, you should contact a work injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Get Help From our Seattle PPD Attorneys Today
At The Walthew Law Firm, we are strong, effective advocates for injured workers. Our local attorneys can help you obtain the highest possible PPD award on your legal claim. To get a free, strictly confidential review of your claim, please do not hesitate to contact our Seattle law office at (206) 483-1091.