Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) and Catastrophic Injuries

Have you suffered a qualifying injury while at work? If so, you might be eligible for Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. Georgia recognizes four different categories of injury when it comes to workers’ compensation claims. Permanent partial disability (PPD) and catastrophic injuries are the categories for the most serious of all injuries. 

If your injury is serious and has caused you a permanent injury, hiring a skilled lawyer is essential. At Smith Hulsey Law, our legal team can help make sure that your employer’s insurance company offers you the right amount of compensation for your injuries. Contact our Georgia workers’ compensation law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

 

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits in Georgia

Under Georgia law, permanent partial disability occurs when the disability is “partial in character but permanent in quality resulting from loss or loss of use of body members or from the partial loss of use of the employee’s body.” Do you need to have sustained any economic loss for your injury to qualify for permanent partial disability? No, you do not. However, not every injury that qualifies for worker’s compensation benefits will qualify for permanent partial disability benefits. 

Workers in Georgia can receive compensation for a body part that became injured while at work. Georgia law imposes a formula to determine how much to compensate you for the injured body party. A treating medical physician will assign a rating to your on-the-job injury. The rating is subjective and doctors have been known to rate injuries as higher functioning than they are, in reality. Doctors assign a rating of permanent partial disability to the worker’s specific body part that received an injury or to the worker’s “body as a whole.”

For example, if a medical professional assigns a rating for an upper extremity, the rating will include 225 weeks of compensation. Whole-body injuries include the neck, back, or multiple body parts at once. When a medical professional assigns a whole body rating, the injured party will receive 300 weeks of workers’ compensation.

When Must Employers Start Paying Permanent Partial Disability Benefits?

Employers have a legal right to wait to start paying permanent partial disability benefits until the employee has stopped receiving temporary total disability benefits and temporary partial disability benefits. Once these benefits stop, the employer must start paying PPD benefits within 21 days. When employers fail to meet this legal requirement, they are in violation of Georgia law and should consider consulting a lawyer as soon as possible.

Catastrophic Injuries in Georgia

The category of catastrophic injuries is the most serious of all workers’ compensation categories. The catastrophic injury category applies to workers who suffer severe injuries. Those workers whose injuries qualify as catastrophic injuries are entitled to all of the following benefits:

  • Medical benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits
  • Total disability benefits 

The total disability benefits will last indefinitely or until the injured worker can return to work. If your injury is not sufficient to warrant a catastrophic injury determination, then your benefits might be capped after 400 weeks or less. That is why it is essential that you speak with a skilled Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. At Smith Hulsey Law, our experienced worker’s compensation lawyers can help ensure that you receive a determination of a catastrophic injury so you can receive the benefits you deserve.

Which Injuries Qualify as a Catastrophic For Workers’ Compensation?

Georgia statutory law lists the definition of catastrophic. The following different types of injuries are considered catastrophic when it comes to Georgia workers’ compensation claims:

  • Amputation of a hand, arm, leg, or foot that results in the loss of that appendage
  • Spinal cord injuries that result in severe paralysis of a leg, trunk, or arm
  • Severe closed-head or brain injuries
  • Second or third-hand burns that cover at least 25% of the whole body
  • Third-degree burn of the face and hands that cover 5% or more 
  • Industrial or total blindness

Severe brain injuries include all of the following cases:

  • The injured party has severe motor disturbances
  • The injured party has severe sensory disturbances
  • The injured party has severe communication disturbances
  • The injured party has severe complex integrated disturbances of cerebral function
  • The injured party has severe disturbances of consciousness
  • The injured party has severe episodic neurological disorders

In addition to meeting the requirements state above, the medical condition must be “of a nature and severity that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy for which such employee is otherwise qualified.”

Our Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer can Help

If you or your loved one have sustained a severe injury while on the job, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation. If you sustained a severe work-related injury, a lawyer can review your case and advise you as to which category of injury you have suffered. At Smith Hulsey Law, we can help you provide the medical and vocational evidence necessary to validate your injury as one that should receive a catastrophic determination or a determination of permanent partial disability.

We have the experience needed and the connection with vocational and medical experts who can evaluate your work-related injury. If necessary, these experts can testify regarding the severe and catastrophic nature of your injuries and the inability to work. Determining which category of injury you suffered or how much compensation you may be entitled to receive is difficult due to the complex nature of Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws. Hiring a skilled lawyer to walk you through the process can help focus on recovering from your injuries instead of worrying about how you will pay your medical bills. Contact our Georgia law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.