Many injured workers call me and ask about settlements. However, many of them are confusing the term settlement with their permanent partial disability benefits.
How Permanent Partial Disability Is Determined
Permanent partial disability benefits are determined by a formula (established by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission) based on an injured worker’s average weekly wage, the percentage of disability the worker has for an injured body part, and the number of weeks assigned to that body part (as determined by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Table of Weeks for Loss of Use of a Body Part).
Permanent Partial Disability vs. Settlement
This is different than a settlement in that this is compensation an injured worker can be entitled to when they have a measurable loss of use in one or more of their extremities due to a work accident. Permanent partial disability benefits can be paid to an injured worker without affecting their work status or ending their Medical Award (which will remain open for the Injured Worker to use for needed future medical care related to the injury).
A settlement, on the other hand, closes a claim. The injured worker can take a certain amount of money (an amount agreed upon by the injured worker and the insurance carrier) and close the claim. This means no future compensation for lost wages, and the insurance carrier will no longer cover medical care related to the accident.
How Settlements Are Determined
A settlement is determined by a complicated list of factors including, but not limited to: limitations, employment status, cost of future medical care, and future lost wages. The settlement is a complicated dance and I ALWAYS recommend an injured worker speak to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before making any binding agreements with the insurance carrier. Not all claims will settle depending on each individual situation.
These two types of compensation are very different, and you need to make sure you have a clear understand of what each one entails. My book has a great deal of information about both of these. If you don’t have it already, contact my office as we provide this book to ALL injured workers for FREE!