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When are you entitled to permanent total disability benefits?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Workers' Compensation Blog Post |

Workers’ compensation will cover any injuries you sustain during your work provided they are deemed compensable injuries by accident. This usually translates into compensation for your medical expenses. But there’s more to workers’ compensation than just paying for your medical fees.

If your work-related injuries lead to permanent total disability, workers’ compensation will provide you benefits. When do these benefits trigger? And how much compensation can you expect?

What counts as permanent total disability?

According to Virginia workers’ compensation law, a worker is rewarded benefits for permanent and total disability if the following apply:

  • If you lose both hands, both arms, both feet, both legs, both eyes, or any two combinations of the specified body parts, either from the same accident or as a consequence of a work-related injury.
  • If you suffer an injury that results in “total paralysis.” It’s up to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to determine if your injuries truly led to total paralysis based on medical evidence.
  • If you suffer from a brain injury that’s severe enough to prevent you from being gainfully employed.

The severity of your work-related injuries must lead to total impairment that can last for life. Otherwise, your injuries might instead be eligible for permanent partial disability benefits.

Amount of compensation and benefits

If you are eligible for permanent total disability benefits, your employer must pay you a weekly compensation equivalent to 66 2/3% of your average weekly wages. This benefit can’t exceed your average weekly wage, nor can it go lower than 25% of the average weekly wage in the commonwealth. The benefit also can’t go over 100% of the average weekly wage in the commonwealth.

Disputes over benefits

Your employer or insurer likely will dispute your claim for permanent total disability benefits. This can happen in cases where your body has been medically determined to be unable to perform work, but you’re still able to use your limbs for daily living. If this happens, you can file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission to request a hearing.

These hearings are done before a deputy commissioner, who will question all parties and any expert witnesses.

While you could attend this hearing without anyone representing you, your employer or insurer will likely have an attorney. You should consider hiring a legal professional with experience in workers’ compensation and labor laws to level the playing field.