Is there a settlement? Permanent Partial Disability

Injured workers often ask if they will receive a settlement at the end of their worker’s compensation case. The answer is –it depends. If there is objective evidence that your injury will not totally heal, then you should receive a permanent partial disability award, PPD for short.

 

Before your condition can be rated for a PPD award, several events must happen.

  • You must be done with medical treatment. The phrase used is “maximum medical improvement.”
  • You must be cleared to return to work (often after a vocational rehabilitation evaluation). If you are participating in a vocational rehabilitation retraining plan, your condition will not be rated until the plan is over.
  • A doctor will examine you and rate your impairment. The doctor may be your own attending physician or an “independent medical examine” (IME) doctor working for the Department of Labor and Industries or your self-insured employer.

 

The impairment rating will be based on a recognized national guide, such as the AMA’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. While a doctor decides how high your PPD rating is, a Washington state law sets forth the money value of a PPD rating based on the year in which the worker was injured. For example, once a doctor determines that an injured worker has a permanent impairment equal to 10 percent loss of use of their arm, what does that mean? If the injury was in 2014, complete amputation of an arm was valued at $118,266.42. So, if a doctor says there are objective findings of a 10 percent loss of use, the worker would receive 10 percent of $118,266.42. There is nothing added for pain and suffering, or for future lost wages.

 

Statutory PPD amounts for various body parts can be found here:  

http://lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Claims/Benefits/Disability/PpdAwardScheds.asp

IME doctors often earn upwards of $500,000 per year doing exams for the Department of Labor and Industries and self-insured employers, so they tend to favor the people who pay them, not the injured workers. Doctors often disagree on the PPD rating. If you feel you are not getting a fair rating, contact us to discuss your options.