The Doctor Says I'll Never Fully Recover - What Do I Do Now?

I've got a permanent injury and I'll Never Be the Same

We've seen it a lot.

You've been hurt at work - an injury you never asked for and wasn't your fault, but it happened.  And you've been dealing with the workers comp insurance company adjuster, not sure if she is being honest with you or telling you the truth (Spoiler Alert - she works for the insurance company, not you and your family). 

The workers comp benefits you can get for a permanent injury depend on a lot of factors under DC Workers' comp.

So let's go through them.

First, if you have a permanent injury, especially to your neck, back, shoulder or ankle, and it prevents you from working again, you may be eligible to get permanent total disability. 

This means you can't do any work at all.  And it depends on what your job was at the time you got hurt - the heavier,  physically demanding job you had could make a difference.  So does your training, education and experience.

For example, if you've worked construction since you were a teenager and you're now 57, you've developed a lot of valuable skills but they all involve hard work (we all know there is no light duty in the trade).  Because of that, you've never had time to develop other skills - sales, computer skills, writing and public speaking.  So you're probably competing for jobs that are entry level - competing with kids who are half your age.  And who do you think a company will hire for an entry level job making $25,000 a year?  Someone who was making $100,000 before he got hurt, or someone just out of school?

How about someone who has been out of work for the last few years because of an injury?

Most employers just won't touch you.  And that's one of the real world factors we have to look it.  Everyone is different and has a different set of skills they bring to a job.  We review all of the factors to see if someone qualifies for permanent total disability - and if so, they can get a lifetime award of workers comp benefits and annual COLA increases (plus medical treatment for the injury).

Now let's say you had a bad injury to your knee and needed a knee replacement. 

But your job was mostly sedentary, office type work where you weren't lifting much, walking around a lot, up and down stairs, and all that.

Once you returned to work, you could get benefits for the permanent partial disability your injury caused, or a percentage disability or permanent impairment as it is also called.  To be eligible for those type of benefits, you'll need a doctor to indicate you've reached maximum medical improvement (this just means the condition won't get much better or much worse) and then evaluate the injury and give you a permanency rating. The American Medical Association has guidelines for doctors to use in giving you a rating.

There are a number of strategies that go into this, like the timing, the doctor to use for the rating, and a number of other factors that will be specific to your injury and your case.  

And remember, the workers comp insurance company is going to fight this - they will send you to one of their doctors who will say there is nothing wrong with you, your injury wasn't caused by your work, it's not a permanent injury, it's a very slight permanent injury, that kind of thing.  And insurance company adjusters and lawyers are trained to fight any claim for permanent injury - in fact, they start setting that up from day 1 (all the more reason you need the best lawyer for you and your family at the beginning of your case).

There are a number of ways handle the permanent injury aspect of your DC workers comp case - they can include hearings, stipulations and settlements.  All of these have their place, it's just a matter of making the best decision on your workers comp case for you and your family as to what is right for you - and that's really our mission, to work your case, giving you the advice, guidance and counsel you need to make the best decision for you and your family.

If you've got a permanent injury, or think your injury will be permanent at some point, give us a call at (202) 393 - 3320 to talk about it.  Sometimes just one free, no obligation call can prevent you from making a huge mistake that will affect your case - don't take that chance with your future.