Two of the most common benefits under the Ohio workers’ compensation system involve “permanent partial” benefits and “temporary total” benefits. When an injured worker is not able to return to his or her former position of employment and loses wages as a result, temporary total compensation can be sought to help make up for these lost wages. Permanent partial benefits, however, can be awarded regardless of whether an injury resulted in lost time. Expressed as a percentage of whole body impairment, the permanent partial award compensates for the impairment an injured worker has as a result of the allowed conditions. This type of benefit is completely unrelated to the injured worker’s ability to return to work.
Based solely on the names of these benefits, one may think that they cannot be paid at the same time for the same injury. How can an injury be “permanent” and “temporary” at the same time? However, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in Advantage Tank Lines v. Industrial Commission (107 Ohio St.3d 16) that it is not necessarily wrong for a claimant to receive permanent partial and temporary total over the same time for the same injury.
The Court reached this conclusion by noting that these benefits compensate for different things. Temporary total focuses on lost wages due to disability while permanent partial focuses of bodily impairment. The benefits also have differing perspectives on what it means for something to be permanent. The Court explained that a condition can be permanent in that there will always be some degree of impairment while at the same time be temporary in the sense that the condition may not always prevent a return to the former position of employment.
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