All workers’ compensation claims are subjective to some extent. Two workers may be injured in the same incident and in the same way, yet they may be entitled to different levels of compensation. Permanent Total Disability (PTD) claims are perhaps the most subjective of all. “Total disability” does not necessarily mean bedridden for life. There are various degrees involved. Not surprisingly, the workers’ compensation insurance company usually has a much different interpretation than the victim has.
In times like these, you need a strong advocate who also gives you solid advice. That is the kind of counsel you will find at Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd.. We diligently look into every aspect of your claim so that we can accurately determine its settlement value and ensure that you receive fair compensation. Our lawyers are also strong advocates. They know the law, they know how to make it work for you, and they do not give up.
Workers’ compensation covers both trauma injuries and occupational diseases. Either one can produce a PTD.
Trauma injuries include things like motor vehicle collisions and falls. The fall could be a fall from a height or a slip-and-fall. These injuries are serious, but most victims recover from them, given the proper treatment and sufficient physical therapy. But some victims can no longer pursue their chosen occupations because of their injuries. According to Illinois’ workers’ compensation law, these individuals are permanently disabled.
Occupational diseases include things like respiratory problems and environmental cancer. Again, some victims can overcome these illnesses and return to work, and some can not.
In both trauma injury and occupational disease PTD cases, a pre-existing condition may be an issue. For example, a victim might have a prior injury in her knee and re-injure that knee at work. Or, a smoker might develop lung cancer because of toxic smoke inhalation.
The eggshell skull rule, or more precisely its workers’ compensation variant, protects PTD victims in these situations. Even if the victim had a prior injury or pre-existing condition, full benefits are normally available. In other words, workers’ compensation insurance companies cannot downgrade PTDs to Permanent Partial Disabilities or some other injury category.
PTD compensation may be subjective, but it is not random. Workers’ compensation insurance companies can not simply pay what they want to pay and then wash their hands of the matter. Instead, there is a process that must be followed.
Part of that process includes ascertaining the nature of the permanent disability. Loss of motion in a shoulder means a lot more to a warehouse worker than it means to a corporate lawyer. Both are entitled to compensation, but the amount varies.
The victim’s Maximum Medical Improvement may be involved, as well. Many PTDs begin as Temporary Total Disabilities. After a brief recuperation period, the victim begins physical therapy. After a while, these victims may reach their MMI. In plain English, their recovery plateaus and, according to their physicians, they will never improve further. In these cases, the PTD compensation may need to be adjusted, to account for the prior TTD compensation.
A permanent disability may be the most devastating diagnosis that a workplace injury victim can receive. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Chicago, contact Saks, Robinson & Rittenberg, Ltd. After-hours visits are available.