Disability Attorneys in South Jersey
WC Permanent Partial Disability Cases in New Jersey
PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY
After curative medical treatment has concluded and maximum medical improvement has been achieved, an assessment will be made to determine whether the work injury has resulted in some partial permanent disability or total permanent disability. Doctors who are qualified to assess permanent disability in NJ will be asked to conduct examinations and render reports expressing their opinions on the nature and extent of permanent disability. These examinations must invariably be performed to enable the WC court to determine a claimant’s entitlement to monetary compensation for permanent disability. For each type of evaluation a claimant secures (i.e., orthopedic, neurologic, neuropsychiatric, etc.), the insurance company/employer is entitled to their own “independent medical examination”.
In certain cases, re-evaluations are necessary and must be kept to resolve a given case. Refusal or repeated failure to attend a permanent disability evaluation will most likely result in the assessment of missed appointment charges and/or eventual dismissal of the claim. Injuries which involve “minor” sprains or strains do not usually qualify for permanency compensation. Only where there exists objective medical evidence of disability and actual restrictions on activities of daily living will the court enter a compensation award or approve a settlement.
How is permanent disability in NJ determined and paid?
Permanent disability benefits in NJ are not paid permanently except in cases of total permanent disability, and they are not based on future lost income. Permanent partial disability is ordinarily awarded in accordance with a pre-determined Schedule of Benefits which allows fixed amounts of compensation depending upon the percentage of permanent disability sustained to the injured part of the body. As an example, for a 2018 accident or occupational disease:
- 10% disability of the hand entitles an individual to $5,904.50*
- 15% of the leg pays $11,387.25*
- 25% of the whole person warrants an award of $41,190.00*
*The actual amount payable, however, may be less if the gross average wage earned before the accident was low.
Based upon the respective opinions of the permanent disability evaluators on both sides, the diagnosis and treatment involved, and testimony as to ongoing symptoms and restrictions, the degree of disability related to each case will be awarded either by a court approved settlement or judgment of the court after trial.
By law, the money awarded for permanent partial disability must be paid over the course of a designated number of weeks commencing on (retroactive to) the date of accident, date of last temporary disability compensation paid, or last medical treatment. For example, an award of:
- 10% disability of the hand calls for 24.5 weeks of payments
- 15% disability of the leg is 47.25 weeks of payments, and
- 25% disability of the total body is payable over the course of 150 consecutive weeks.
Thus, some portion of a permanency award may be payable into the future if the award calls for a large number of consecutive weekly payments. Specific details about the manner in which a particular award will be paid can only be determined at the time a settlement or judgment is worked out.
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