Last updated Aug. 31, 2017.
Getting injured on the job is a difficult experience, no matter how big the injury. You’re out of work for a few days to a few weeks, at least, but what about when you can’t see yourself completing the same tasks you once did once you’re back on the job, or worse, you’re no longer able to work at all?
More than 125,000 Ohioans are injured every year on the job across all industries, with manufacturing and trade and transportation two of the biggest sectors hit. These workers sometimes can be injured so severely that they suffer permanent disability.
There are two kinds of permanent disability under Ohio law — partial and total. Here’s how they differ and why this matters if you have experienced an injury or accident at work.
What is permanent partial disability?
Permanent partial disability is a permanent disability of a partial nature involving the permanent limitation or restriction of the use of a portion of the body.
A permanently stiff wrist or elbow that limits the use of a hand or arm is one example. Another example is a back injury causing a permanent weakness or restriction of back motion. A permanent heart condition caused by an accidental injury which limits workers in their activities also would likely be a permanent partial disability, as would a partial loss of an extremity, like a finger or a foot.
You do not have to be completely disabled in order to receive benefits for a permanent partial disability. It doesn’t have to be a physical disability, either; permanent partial disability benefits can be awarded for medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
What is permanent total disability?
Permanent total disability is a disability that totally prevents a person from performing any sustained remunerative employment due to the allowed conditions in the claim and is expected to be of permanent duration without any indication of recovery therefrom. In other words, these are serious, debilitating injuries that often create lifelong complications and are catastrophic to both the injured and their loved ones. Examples include paralysis after a fall, losing limbs during a trucking accident, or being maimed by faulty factory equipment.
Are you allowed to hold a job if you have a permanent total disability? The answer can be complicated.
Loss or loss of use of both hands, or both arms, both legs, both eyes, or any two thereof, is considered automatic permanent total disability by Ohio law. In this case only, the claimant can work and receive permanent total compensation.
The ability to perform “odd jobs” — isolated and brief activities — does not bar permanent total disability because it is not evidence of an ability to perform sustained remunerative employment, but it’s important to be careful. The activities must be “de minimus” if any and within any restrictions being alleged. The key is the ability to show that the injured worker is truly incapable of performing any type of work.
No wages may be earned during the allowed period of disability, but investment income is acceptable.
How do I get help if I’ve suffered from permanent partial or total disability?
There are strict rules regarding forms to be completed, deadlines for submitting forms, and the type of medical proof needed to support a claim. The experienced workers’ compensation and workplace injury attorneys of Plevin & Gallucci can help you understand your level of disability as defined by Ohio law and how to file your claim to ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
Plevin & Gallucci has been fighting for the rights of injured Ohio workers for over 40 years. Our clients have been awarded substantial settlements of hundreds of thousands of dollars, even 7-figure awards, such as $1 million in workers’ compensation benefits plus an additional $1 million settlement for a man who was paralyzed after a fall at work.
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