Most employees who are injured on the job suffer from temporary injuries that keep them out of work during the process of recovery and repair. An employee may need time to recover from a surgery or may need physical therapy before being able to return to work. In these types of scenarios, the hope is always that the employee will resume his or her old job after a period of time.
For some employees, however, the consequences of an injury are far worse. Due to a sudden significant injury on the job, the employee may face the prospect of a permanent injury that prevents him or her from ever fully returning to their original position. For example, if an employee is a seamstress but breaks several fingers, even after the fingers have healed, there may be lingering consequences that keep the employee from performing at the level she was performing at previously.
In these types of scenarios, New Jersey’s workers’ compensation system provides for special compensation for individuals who are permanently impacted by their injury. One form of this type of compensation is known as permanent partial disability.
Permanent Partial Disability in Cherry Hill
New Jersey workers’ compensation law entitles an employee who sustains an injury in the course and scope of their employment to receive compensation for medical bills incurred as a result of a workplace injury and for lost time on the job. However, New Jersey law also recognizes that when an employee suffers a permanent injury as a result of his or her work, that employee should also be entitled to compensation for that loss since certain functions may never be regained. This is known as partial disability compensation.
Partial disability compensation is available both for sudden injuries that occur on the job (such as the loss of an arm or lost function in one’s hand) as well as for occupational diseases that arise over time (such as loss of hearing due to working with loud machinery).
Unless an employee has suffered an extreme injury (like losing a finger to a workplace machine), that employee will rarely be awarded partial disability payments when they first make their workers’ compensation claim. Instead, the employee will follow the typical road to recovery. This will involve treatment for the injury and then evaluation by a medical professional about whether the employee is ready to return to work.
When an employee has recovered as much as possible and is ready to return to work, this is known as maximum medical improvement. It represents the best possible outcome for the employee. If, at the time of maximum medical improvement, certain permanent impairments still exist (like a loss of mobility), then an employee may submit a claim to the insurer for compensation for this permanent injury.
Determining Permanent Partial Disability Compensation
There is no preset amount of compensation that an employee who has partial disability will receive. Instead, the amount is determined at a hearing based on a judge’s evaluation of the available evidence. In New Jersey, the value of the disability is determined by looking at not only how it impacted an employee’s work opportunities, but also how it impacts other aspects of their life – such as their home life or hobbies.
At a hearing, an employee will have the opportunity to present wide-ranging evidence to this effect, including:
- Medical records
- Test results
- Testimony from doctors
- Testimony from personal friends and family
- Other evidence of impairment.
Based on all of this evidence, the court will consider (1) whether a permanent partial disability exists; (2) whether the severity of the partial disability warrants compensation; and (3) how much compensation is sufficient. Unlike many other states, New Jersey is unique in that it allows employees to receive partial disability compensation even if they can return to their old job. This is only if they can still show that they have suffered impairment that impacts their quality of life.
New Jersey Attorneys Helping You Obtain Disability Compensation
If you have recently suffered a significant life-changing injury or have an ongoing injury that does not appear to be recovering and has left a permanent impact on your life, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability compensation in New Jersey.
As an employee, you will be entitled to prove your right to compensation at a hearing, which can be an overwhelming and complicated process. In order to ensure your best chance at success, it pays to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can assist you in the process and advocate on your behalf.
The attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C. have a reputation for excellence. In fact, the law firm has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.
In addition to the firm’s stellar reputation, the department head, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® every year since 1995 and by Super Lawyers® every year since 2005. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Along with Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, and Daniel Rosenthal, our New Jersey workers’ comp attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience, having successfully handled thousands of litigated workers’ comp cases throughout New Jersey. This experience and winning track record means that you are going to have a skilled New Jersey work injury lawyer who will work for you.
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you in preparing your claim for permanent partial disability and help you fight for the compensation you deserve, regardless of your workers’ compensation issues. In addition to our office in Cherry Hill, we have offices in Northfield, Hamilton, and Cape May Court House to better serve our growing list of clients. For more information, contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.