If you are an injured worker, you have probably heard the term “permanent partial disability.” What does that mean? In Missouri, when a person is injured on the job, they are entitled to temporary total disability benefits while they are recovering from their injury. Once the doctor determines that there is nothing further that can be done to improve your condition, she will declare that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” or MMI, for short. That does not necessarily mean you are healed and have nothing wrong with you. It simply means the doctors have done all they could and you are as good as you are going to get.
When the doctor says MMI, they also make another determination. They can either say you have no disability, which means you have been healed, or they say you have a disability. In severe cases, a person may be so disabled they cannot even work. That is called “permanent total disability.” In most cases, however, the disability is a “permanent partial disability.” It is sometimes referred to as PPD. It means your injury has caused you to lose function in the body part or system that was injured.
Take, for example, a rotator cuff tear in a person’s shoulder. A surgery may have been performed to fix the tear, but the tissue remains permanently damaged. The person may still experience pain, may not be able to move their shoulder with the same range of motion as before and the shoulder may be weaker. The doctor will assign a percentage, or rating. That percentage is then multiplied by 400 weeks, which results in a number of weeks that can be multiplied by 55% of your average weekly wage.
How can a lawyer help? A lawyer can look at the rating given by the insurance company’s doctor and see if it is fair. I (Ben Creedy) offer a free consultation for such purposes. Oftentimes, the rating is not fair. A lawyer can then help get you to a doctor who can fully and fairly evaluate your condition and long-term outlook and then fight for a settlement that fairly compensates you for your injuries.