Recovering Permanent Total Disability Benefits in Virginia

Recovering Permanent Total Disability Benefits in Virginia

When someone is in a major accident at work and is unable to work as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, the injured party may recover workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical bills and partial lost wages.

Several types of benefits are available depending on whether the worker suffered a temporary or permanent disability, and whether the employee is able to return to work. Permanent total disability benefits, for example, cover employees who suffer severe injuries.

What constitutes a permanent and total disability?

Workers’ compensation rules in Virginia specify a permanent and total disability as one where the worker loses both his or her hands, arms, feet, legs, or eyes – or any two in the same accident. It also includes workers who are paralyzed or are seriously disabled by a brain injury. These workers are permanently and totally disabled, and therefore unable to perform work they once performed.

What are the benefits for permanent total disability?

Workers who suffer a permanent and total disability may be entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wages prior to the injury for their lifetime. Further, all medical expenses related to the injury are paid for by the workers’ comp insurance company.

The worker must choose the doctor from a panel of three physicians who the employer and/or insurance carrier provide – those who wish to change a physician must get approval from the employer or insurer or from the workers’ compensation commission.

What if I’m not totally disabled?

Workers who suffer a permanent injury but are not totally disabled, that is, they are able to work, may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits instead. The number of weeks for which the worker can recover these benefits is dependent on the body part injured as well as the percentage of impairment assigned. However, this does not include “body as a whole” disabilities or those affecting the back or neck.

For example, if an employee suffers the loss of a thumb while treating waste at Alexandria Renew Enterprises, then this entitles the worker to 75 weeks of benefits, per Virginia Code §65.2-503. However, if the worker’s thumb impairment is not a complete loss, a physician will assign an impairment rating that dictates for how long the worker can receive benefits. If 50 percent impaired, the worker can receive the benefits (two-thirds of average weekly wages) for 30 weeks instead of 75.

Legal Help With Workers’ Comp Claims in Virginia

Unfortunately, some workers have trouble with insurance-chosen doctors who may argue the worker isn’t totally disabled or may downplay the impairment rating assigned. In these cases, an attorney can help employees fighting the insurance company for fair benefits. If you have questions about workers' compensation and your case, contact The Barrera Law Firm, PLLC for a FREE consultation.