Permanent Total Disability
Workers in Massachusetts are covered by Workers Compensation when they become permanently and totally disabled from work. When a worker suffers an injury that is both permanent and total, the insurer is supposed to pay the worker two-thirds of his average weekly wage.
The average weekly wage is usually the gross salary the worker earns each week divided by the last 52 weeks. This includes overtime and bonuses, and can even include wages from a second job. If a worker becomes injured after a shorter time on the job, the insurer can average the weeks worked, or obtain an average from that of a co-worker.
Some injuries are so catastrophic that it becomes obvious to the insurer that the worker can never work again. Some of the more common injuries that cause a worker to be totally and permanently disabled include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury,
It is very rare, however, that an insurance company will voluntarily place an injured worker on permanent and total incapacity under M.G.L. ch. 152, s.34A. A lawyer will be necessary to prepare and bring such a claim.What is Needed to Prove Total and Permanent Disability
In evaluating a claim for total and permanent disability, an insurance adjuster and ultimately a judge will consider the following facts:
- Age: The older a worker is, the more likely he/she will be considered permanently and totally disabled . A worker who is sixty years old stands a better chance of being found disabled than a worker who is twenty years old. The body has experienced more wear and tear, and is less likely to recover as quickly. There are other health issues that must be considered. For example, if a worker broke his back in a fall, but can not undergo surgery because of a weakened heart, the professionals may agree that may render an older worker P&T.
- Education: The less education a person has, the more likely he/she will be considered permanently and totally disabled. A worker who dropped out of high school is more likely to be found disabled than a person with a college degree. There may be a desk job that someone with a college degree can do that would be unavailable to someone with a GED.
- Past Relevant Work: A judge and adjuster will look at the injured worker’s job history to see if the worker can go back to a previous type of work. If the injured worker can no longer do the job where he was injured and also any past relevant work, the worker would be more likely considered Permanently & Totally Disabled.
- Transferable Skills: If the injured worker was an engineer or a mechanic or educated in computers or a skilled occupation, the insurer and the judge will decide whether those skills fit other jobs in the economy that the injured worker might do. For example, a mechanical engineer who tore his rotator cuff may be able to still work at a desk in a computer lab. On the other hand, A printer of text books with a torn rotator cuff may not have the transferable skills to perform other work.
- Extent of Injury: Probably, the most important factor in determining whether an injured worker is Permanently and Totally Disabled is the extent of injury. If the worker has a brain injury so profound that she cannot recall even simple tasks; or if the worker has a failed back surgery so painful that he cannot sit or stand for more than 20 minutes at a time; or if the worker’s neck and shoulder injury is so physically restrictive that turning her neck to do computer work produces constant pain and headache, each of those workers is likely to be considered permanently and totally disabled.
Weekly benefits for permanently disabled workers go on indefinitely. This is why insurance companies do all they can to deny these claims. They will always employ private investigators to videotape the injured workers activities of daily living, hoping to find the worker doing something that looks like the disability is improved.
If you were injured at work and think you’ll never be able to work again, you need an attorney who knows the law, knows the experts needed and is willing to fight for the benefits you deserve.
At Marcotte Law Firm, our lawyers have decades of experience representing workers with catastrophic injuries. We get our clients the compensation they deserve so they can go back to living their life.