Permanent Disability–A Somewhat Misleading Phrase

In the nearly 40 years that I have been representing those disabled, I have observed that the phrase “Permanent Disability” often misleads the victim of a workers' compensation injury into seeing himself/herself as permanently unable to work. A more correct characterization would be “Permanent Partial Disability”–i.e., some (but not all) loss of ability to perform the activities of daily living, including some work.


When the unsophisticated injury victim hears that he/she has “Permanent Disability,” often they start worrying about how they are going to survive without any ability to perform work so as to “make their living.” If it is a more minor injury, then clients tend to intuitively know that he/she still has the capability to do some work. The more seriously injured, however, can get confused when the doctors and lawyers start talking about their “Permanent Disability.”


Permanent Partial Disability

In California Workers’ Compensation, “Permanent Partial Disability” can amount to anything between 1% and 99%. (In nearly 4 decades I have not had a 1% case but I have seen a few stipulations for as little as 3% since the 2004 Workers’ Compensation reforms were enacted (thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger). At the other extreme, I have not seen a 99% case but I have seen a few that were close to it.


Permanent Total Disability

If the injured person is found to have “Permanent Total Disability,” then he/she has been found to be 100% disabled. In the world of California Workers’ Compensation, that means that he/she is seen as being someone who will not likely work in the future. While that is the theory–100% means you will never work again–I have seen cases where a person with 100% disability did in fact return to the work force. This does not happen frequently. Usually it comes about because of a combination of factors, not the least of which is the injured person’s dedication to his/her own self-rehabilitation over time. With sufficient motivation, “miracles” can happen to a person facing a workers' compensation injury in Orange County.


The Bottom Line:

So, if you are the victim of an injury and the doctors (and lawyers) start talking about your “Permanent Disability,” you need to start asking what that means in your particular circumstance. It may mean a small check will eventually end up in your mailbox to compensate (another word that may be deserving of a separate blog) you for your loss. If you have lost much of your ability to do the work you have always done, you need to have a serious discussion with a qualified attorney at The Law Offices of Maurice L. Abarr, Esq. about what can be done to provide you with as much security for your future as is possible within the context of your case. We’re at your disposal.

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NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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