Permanent Total Disability in Workers Compensation Law

What is permanent total disability under Missouri’s workers compensation law?

In most cases, when a worker is injured on the job, he or she recovers from the injury and returns to work. There are cases where an injury is so severe that the worker may never be able to return to any type of employment. When an injured worker cannot return to any employment, the case is known as a permanent total case.

Total disability is the inability to return to any employment. It is not merely the inability to return to the employment in which the employee was engaged at the time of the accident. An example may help clarify the matter. I represented a person who did drywalling. The work involved a great deal of above-the-shoulder lifting. The employee fell from a ladder and badly tore his rotator cuff tear. Despite surgery and months of physical therapy, the employee was finally released but with a work restriction of no lifting overhead. The job that the employee was working at when he was injured was a union job with great wages and benefits. The employee could not go back to that job due to his work restriction and could only find jobs that paid substantially less.

The employer was not required to take him back and he was left taking a job that involved a significant cut in pay and no benefits. He was not permanently totally disabled.

Someone who cannot go back to any type of work, has a claim for permanent total benefits. An example may help clarify the matter. I represented a man who very early in his career lost his leg below the knee due to an electrocution. He continued to work. He then tore his right rotator cuff and needed a right shoulder replacement. He continued to work. He then tore his ACL, a ligament in the leg that had not had an amputation. He continued to work. He then badly injured his back. After that accident, he could no longer work. Thus, he was entitled to permanent total disability.

It is not only prior accidents that may contribute to someone being permanently totally disabled, it can be pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes.
If the on-the-job injury was catastrophic and in and of itself resulted in permanent total disability, the claim is made against the employer.
If the work injury combines with pre-existing injuries or medical conditions, the claim is made against the Second Injury Fund.
As in all workers’ compensation cases, the claim needs to be filed within the strict deadlines set by the law.
The law does allow lump sum settlements based on the value of a permanent total award.
On the other hand, some cases are paid out on a weekly basis for the employee’s lifetime.

Benefits received for permanent total disability can reduce an injured worker’s Social Security disability payment unless actions are taken on behalf of the injured employee to appropriately classify settlement monies.

Cases involving permanent total disability are cases where insurance companies frequently hire private investigators to obtain video surveillance evidence.

In the vase majority of cases in which it is alleged that the employee is totally disabled, it is necessary to obtain a doctor’s opinion and a vocational specialist.

If you have think you may have a permanent total disability workers compensation claim, you need an experienced attorney. We can help you, call now for a free consultation at 816-753-3100. No recovery, no fee. Dean Law Office, LLC The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

Posted in Workers' Compensation.