Every day, Ohioans are injured on the job and enter the state workers’ compensation system. Unfortunately, getting benefits is not as simple as one might hope. It is not as easy as sending in a form and getting a direct deposit a week later.
Oftentimes, people are trapped in a long process of argument and appeal. One important issue they and their Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers argue is how their injury should be classified. Injured workers need to establish the extent of their injury so that the Bureau of Workers Compensation and employers know how much money to award in compensation and how long those benefits should be paid.
Naturally, someone with a more severe injury will receive more money and longer-term benefits. As skilled Ohio workers’ compensation attorneys, we know how certain types of injuries are classified and can help you understand the difference, as well as what you should expect from the workers’ compensation system.
How are injuries classified?
There are two major ways for the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in Ohio to classify injuries: permanent vs. temporary, and total vs. partial. Permanent total disability is the most serious of all injury types. However, there are three other ways an injury can be classified.
Temporary disabilities are just what they sound like. They are when an employee will eventually recover or reach a status of maximum medical improvement. In contrast, a permanent disability means that the worker can either never return to the work they were trained to do, or they may not be able to return to the workforce at all.
If an employee cannot do their job as well as before because of an injury or condition, then they may have a partial disability. Employees with a partial disability can still work, but they may have to change positions, while workers with a total disability are unable to work at all. With the combination of these designations, there are four total types of injuries, all of which our Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers can help with:
An injury that leaves a worker less capable of work forever. An example of this would be a waiter who suffers from a shoulder tear that permanently weakens him, but he is still able to perform administrative work.
An injury that leaves a worker completely unable to work for a limited time. An example of this would be a surgeon breaking her hand and being unable to perform surgery for a limited time but may return to the same work after healing.
Temporary Partial Disability
An injury that leaves a worker less capable of work for a limited time. An example of this would be a salesman with temporary lockjaw due to an occupational disease that leaves him unable to make phone calls but is still able to type reports until he recovers. This employee may be entitled to “working wage loss,” if he is able to perform light-duty work, but for less pay than he received for his normal pre-injury job.
What Injuries Are Considered Permanent and Total?
Our workers’ compensation lawyers understand that different injuries and illnesses can affect people in different ways. To some extent, serious injuries are decided on a case-by-case basis.
No matter what, though, a permanent total injury prevents the worker from daily work functions using the skills she has developed or could be expected to develop in her job. Also, some serious injuries automatically count as permanent and total. These include the loss of use of:
any combination of the conditions above.
What Should Someone With a Permanent Total Disability Do?
If a worker does not make a proper effort to work, she will be denied permanent total disability compensation. It is also a good idea for an injured worker to reach out to the Social Security Administration for assistance, and talk to one of our Ohio Social Security Disability attorneys for more help.
Oftentimes, those with permanent total disabilities are at the most financial risk because they are unable to work for the rest of their lives. The BWC gives the most money to these deserving people. It awarded over $369,000,000 in benefits for permanent total disability claims in 2019.
In Ohio, workers can receive up to 66.6% of their pre-injury weekly wage. Workers’ compensation also implements the Disabled Workers’ Relief Fund (DWRF) to help those with permanent total disabilities. The DWRF is a special fund that supplements the benefits received by permanently and totally disabled injured workers whose benefits fall below the cost of living.
How Long Does Compensation for Permanent Total Disability Last?
Generally, awards for permanent total disability last for life. However, the worker will be barred from working in any capacity while receiving compensation. The one exception to this rule is for workers suffering from one of the automatic conditions above. If an employee has lost both hands, feet, eyes, etc. then they are permitted to work and receive benefits at the same time.
Ohio rarely accepts permanent total disability applications. Anyone seeking benefits should have proper legal representation by a competent Ohio workers’ compensation attorney that knows how the state system works.