A permanent partial disability status indicates you could do some work, but nevertheless suffer from some partial disability which reduces your quality of life. New Jersey workers compensation laws allow you to receive some compensation for your reduced work capacity.
The Judge of Compensation evaluates your loss of function across all aspects of your life based on medical proof of impairment and your own personal testimony. Your attorney can help you present your case in a clear, concise way which helps you describe exactly how your injuries have impacted your quality of life.
All of this is possible because New Jersey workers compensation law differs from the law in most other states.
Understanding “Scheduled” vs. “Non-Scheduled” Losses
Permanent partial disabilities get divided into two kinds of losses.
Scheduled losses involve:
Non-Scheduled Losses involve everything else. This could include back injuries, heart trouble, brain damage, or lung damage.
Compensating Permanent Partial Disability
You may continue to receive some compensation. The amount paid will depend on the type and severity of the injury. You’ll be paid a minimum of $35 a month and a maximum of $945 a month.
Your injury may be worth more if you received corrective surgery, or if it involved a complete or near-complete loss of function to the body part in question.
The Department of Labor puts out schedules which outline maximum benefits for different disabilities. These can be confusing to read. The bottom line is you can expect to receive some form of payment so long as you win your case, but you may still have to find some form of employment to support yourself.
Getting a new job on permanent partial disability does not result in the loss of benefits. Indeed, some employees have returned to their old positions but retain PPD benefits as a result of their lost quality of life. The Second Injury Fund may even encourage them to do so, as it gives the employer incentives to keep you employed in spite of your disability.
The Two-Pronged Test
To prove you should receive PPD benefits you must prove the following:
- There is an impairment.
- Your work ability has been reduced, or your injury has a substantial impact on non-work activities.
In some cases you will not have to go before a Judge of Compensation. A good attorney may help you reach a settlement with your employer and their workers compensation insurance company.
Employers rarely offer these awards up front, even if you’ve clearly lost a hand or an eye. You must file for these claims, and it usually takes a good attorney to get them to offer a fair settlement.
Employers will also typically do anything they can to reduce the amount of your award. For example, you may try to claim a hand injury while they try to claim you only have a lower-compensated “finger” injury.
They may also scrutinize your life to point out places where your statements about impact do not match up with your day-to-day activities. Be absolutely sure you’re not engaging in an activity if you plan to testify you can no longer take part in said activity. The opposing counsel can and will hire private investigators to “catch you in the act,” thus reducing your award to the bare minimum, if you receive it at all.
Always consult with your attorney before making claims. Be upfront and honest about your day-to-day life looks like. Armed with this information, a good workers compensation attorney can help maximize the support you receive as you try to put your life back together.