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VERY IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CASE (PART 1 )

1) THERE ARE THREE (3) MAIN BENEFITS FOR INJURED WORKERS.

  1. a) Temporary Disability – This is a monetary benefit that can be paid as Temporary Partial Disability or Temporary Total Disability.  The most commonly paid benefit is Temporary Total Disability (TTD).  This is a bi-weekly benefit paid to the injured worker – typically paid at 2/3’s of their average weekly earnings, up to a state maximum.

It is paid to the injured worker typically when they are actively treating or recovering from their injury or related treatment – but before the time that they reach a stationary level of recovery where the permanent impairment attributable to their injury can be assessed.

And, although there are exceptions, this benefit is typically only be paid for a maximum of 104 weeks within a period of five years from the date of injury.  This is true for injuries after January 1, 2008 – which covers the majority of active cases.

  1. b) Permanent Disability – This is a maximum benefit paid to injured workers based upon the level or extent of their impairment (disability).  The higher their disability/impairment (typically spoken in terms of a percentage of disability) the higher their compensation.  This too, is payable bi-weekly.

The assessment of an injured workers impairment is made by physicians when the injured worker has reached, in the doctors’ opinion, a static level of recovery such that the injured workers permanent impairment caused by their injury can be assessed.

  1. c) Future Medical Care – An injured worker can be awarded future medical care for those injuries and/or conditions which are determined to be a result of the industrial injury.  This includes provision for medical, surgical, hospital and other treatment necessary to cure and relieve the effects of an injury.  This can include not only typical medical expenses but also expenses for medical transportation, medical mileage, a nurse case manager, cosmetic surgery, emergency treatment and home health or nursing care.

2) YOU NEED TO PLAN FINANCIALLY.

There is a large monetary drop from the amount paid for temporary disability and that paid for permanent partial disability.  Most permanent  disability is paid as permanent partial disability, as opposed to permanent total disability which is payable at the TTD rate in effect on the date of injury for individuals who essentially become 100% disabled as a consequence of their on the job injury.

For example, for injuries this year (2022) the maximum TTD rate is $1539.71 per week (payable in bi-weekly installments) whereas the maximum scheduled Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rate is $290/wk.

That’s a huge drop and it occurs literally overnight – when a physician determines you have reached that static or stationary point of recovery and provides an assessment of your permanent disability.

3) A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SETTLEMENT WILL NOT MAKE UP FOR A LOST JOB

If an attorney is up front with you he/she will tell you this at the inception of your case.  To state otherwise would be to provide false hope.

In those instances where an injured workers’ injuries could prevent them from returning to their ususal and customary job or “knocks the out of a job” (as some attorneys call it)  the amount of money they will receive as a settlement will not, in the overwhelming majority (if not all) cases compensate them for the loss of a job.

It is always difficult to tell injured workers such things as….

“I recommend settlement at $80,000 (closing medical care);

“I recommend settling for a permanent disability percentage that will pay you $580 every 2 weeks for a total of approximately $40,000 with open medical care”

 “I recommend settlement at $500,000 closing medical care”

 ….only to have the injured worker respond by saying such things (and rightfully so), as:

 “I made that much in a year and I don’t have a job”

 “What can I do with $290/week – I don’t have a job and that will barely fill my gas tank…”

 “$500,000 would be a lot of money if I was able to return to work but I can’t do my job and I planned on working another 20 years – this wont’ compensate me for my wages lost, lost retirement, loss of insurance…”

These are just examples – but they are based on very real and everyday conversations between Workers’ Compensation Attorneys and their clients.

Mr. Irwin is a recognized specialist in Workers’ Compensation law. He has been certified as a specialist by the State Bar of California since 1995. He limits his practice to handling only workers’ compensation cases. View Attorney Richard Irwin's Attorney Bio Here.

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