Knowledgeable Attorneys Advocate for Permanent Partial Disability in North Carolina
Helping injured workers obtain fair settlements for losses
If you’ve suffered a work-related injury in North Carolina from which you will never fully recover, you may be eligible for permanent partial disability (PPD) compensation, even if you are able to return to full-time employment. PPD awards can be subjective; in many cases, a doctor must certify the disability and assign a rating that establishes the degree of disability. Additionally, the North Carolina Industrial Commission has discretion to set the amount for certain PPD awards. For these reasons, you should retain an experienced attorney to review your PPD application and manage an appeal when necessary. The knowledgeable attorneys at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban are determined to fight for the full benefits you deserve.
Understanding the schedule of injuries in the NC Workers’ Compensation Act
When a worker suffers total loss of a body part, he or she receives total disability benefits during the healing period and additional compensation for the loss afterward. The NC Workers’ Compensation Act §97-31 provides a schedule of rates paid over periods of compensation. Examples based on total loss of the body part or total function include:
- For the loss of a thumb, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 75 weeks
- For the loss of an index finger, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 45 weeks
- For the loss of a great toe, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 35 weeks
- For the loss of a hand, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 200 weeks
- For the loss of an arm, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 240 weeks
- For the loss of a foot, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 144 weeks
- For the loss of a leg, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 200 weeks
- For the loss of an eye, 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wages for 120 weeks
For other injuries, the law allows the Industrial Commission to award “proper and equitable” compensation with set maximums (for example, no more than $20,000 for serious facial or head disfigurement).
When the loss is partial, the worker will receive PPD benefits as a percentage of the maximum possible award, based on the disability rating the treating physician assigns.
The importance of getting the right disability rating
Getting a disability rating that reflects the reality of your condition is the first hurdle to obtaining a fair PPD award. When your doctor believes the healing process is over and you have reached a point known as maximum medical improvement, you get a disability rating based on the doctor’s assessment of your loss of function to the injured area. For example, a doctor may record that you have lost 15 percent of the use of your back. If you disagree with the rating that your treating physician assigns, you are entitled to have your employer pay for a second opinion from a doctor of your choice.
The disability rating affects your benefits greatly because it is a factor used in the formula to determine your PPD:
Disability rating X 66 2/3 percent workers’ compensation rate X worker’s weekly wage X weeks allowed for body part = total compensation
Here is how a 15 percent impairment of a back would work out for an employee making $800 a week:
0.15 disability X 0.66 2/3 compensation X $800 wage X 300 weeks = $24,012
By contrast, a disability rating of 25 percent for the same employee would work out as follows:
0.25 disability X 0.66 2/3 compensation X $800 wage X 300 weeks = $40, 020
As this example shows, a difference of only 10 points in the disability rating translates to $16,008 in additional compensation. It is crucial that you use all means at your disposal to obtain a favorable disability rating. With that much money – and possibly much more – at stake, you need effective advocacy from our experienced workers’ comp attorneys.
Contact our North Carolina lawyers for your permanent partial disability claim
If you have sustained a permanent physical injury, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban can help you get the level of compensation you deserve. Our experienced legal team enforces your rights under North Carolina law. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online for a free consultation.