Were you or a loved one seriously injured on the job in California? You may be entitled to permanent disability or PD benefits. These are a form of workers’ comp benefits that are reserved for people who have an injury or impairment that is so severe that a full recovery is not reasonably expected even with the proper medical care. Within this article, our Fresno workers’ compensation attorney provides a detailed account of the most important things employees should know about how permanent disability benefits are determined in California.
The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) explains that permanent disability benefits are a type of workers’ compensation benefits that are reserved for workers who “will never recover completely” or who “will always be limited” in the work that they can do in some capacity. In other words, a permanent disability is a medical impairment related to a workplace injury/illness that is not expected to fully heal. A permanent disability may be total—meaning a person cannot reasonably return to work in any capacity. A permanent disability may also be partial—meaning that a person may be able to go back to work in some form, even in light of their impairment.
An Overview of the Factors that Determine PD Awards in California
How much can an injured worker in Fresno or elsewhere in California expect to receive in PD benefits? The answer depends on a number of different case-driven factors, including the extent of their injury and their level of wages. Here are key issues that will be relevant to determining a permanent disability workers’ comp award:
- Maximum Medical Improvement Must Be Reached: Before any PD benefits are calculated, you must reach a point called ‘Maximum Medical Improvement’ (MMI). It happens when your condition is not likely to get significantly better or worse. In a California workers’ comp claim, you will need something called a “permanent and stationary” report.
- Your Impairment Level Must Be Determined (Percentage): After reaching MMI, a doctor will assess how much your injury affects your ability to perform daily activities and work tasks. This assessment is converted into a percentage, known as your ‘impairment level’. The higher the percentage, the greater your disability.
- Your Pre-Injury Wages Help to Form the Basis of the Calculation: Finally, as with temporary disability benefits, your pre-injury wages matter. Your PD benefits will be calculated by using your impairment level and your wages to determine what amount is an appropriate payout, given the circumstances.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a passionate, experienced, and results-forward advocate for injured workers. If you have any questions or concerns about permanent disability (PD) benefits, our legal team is more than ready to help. Contact ustoday to set up your fully confidential case assessment. We represent injured workers in Fresno, Fresno County, and throughout the wider region.