If you are an employee that has been injured and filed a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits which is also called “PPD.” Since workers’ compensation is administered by each state, the amount of compensation for permanent partial disability and how it is administered may vary. In North Carolina, an employee is entitled to permanent partial disability compensation if the injury sustained is considered a permanent injury but the loss of function to the injured body part is less than 100%.
A permanent disability means the employee does not have the same function to the injured body part that he had prior to the injury, and the employee is not expected to regain the pre-injury function in the future. In other words, that body part will not ever be the same. The degree of permanent partial disability or disability rating is determined by a medical doctor that has been treating the injured worker and is not based on the worker’s opinion. Once the injured worker has reached maximum medical improvement, a disability rating of 0% to 100% is assigned by the physician. As a result, a strained muscle in the lower back that causes no permanent damage, a 0% disability rating based on the physician’s opinion, would not be entitled to permanent partial disability. However, if the injury to the back resulted in compressed vertebra, the physician will likely assign a permanent disability rating to the back. For permanent partial disability, the rating will be between 1% and 99%. A 100% disability rating would result in permanent and total disability.
It is also important to understand is that an employee entitled to permanent partial disability receives compensation regardless of whether the employee has the ability to work and earn a living in the future. The idea behind permanent partial disability is to compensate the injured employee for the permanent loss of the body part that was injured. Compensation for permanent partial disability is based on 66.67% or 2/3 of the of the injured employee’s average weekly wage over the past twelve months. If the employee has worked for the employer less than twelve months, the period of time worked is used but exceptions may apply. The maximum weekly compensation is limited to $862 in 2012 based on the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Another component of permanent partial disability compensation is the body part that is injured. Each major area of the body is assigned a number of weeks based on North Carolina General Statute 97-31. The number of weeks compensated ranges from 10 weeks for a toe to 300 weeks for a back.
The components considered in a permanent partial disability are the employee’s average weekly wage, the body part injured, the number of weeks assigned to that body part and the disability rating assigned to that body part. The best way to demonstrate compensation for permanent partial disability is by example. In our scenario, we will assume the following for the injured worker.
|Average Weekly Wage of Injured Employee||$500|
|Injured Body Part||Back|
|Weeks Assigned to Back||300|
|Disability Rating by Medical Doctor||20%|
The formula to calculate permanent partial disability is as follows:
Weekly Wage x 66.67% x Weeks Assigned to Body Part x Disability Rating = PPD Payment
$500 x 66.67% x 300 x 20% = $20,000 Permanent Partial Disability Payment
As a result, the injured worker in our scenario is eligible for $20,000 payment for permanent partial disability regardless of his ability to work and earn money in the future. If you live in North Carolina and have been injured in an accident that you believe has resulted in permanent partial disability, contact Duncan Law for a free consultation at any of our three locations.