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permanent disability

What is a Permanent Disability Percentage and Why is it Important?

Under California’s workers’ compensation law, your Permanent Disability Percentage is the number that is assigned to your permanent disability when you are injured or suffer an illness at the workplace.  Your Permanent Disability Percentage is important because it will dictate how much compensation you can receive if you’ve sustained a workplace injury or illness.  In most instances, Permanent Disability Percentages can be confusing and oftentimes they don’t make any sense at all.  In fact, in some cases, even if you and another co-worker suffer identical injuries or illnesses, you can end up with different percentages.  The following discussion is intended to clear up some of the more complex aspects of Permanent Disability Percentages.

How to Calculate a Permanent Disability Percentage

In California, there are a few different ways to determine your Permanent Disability Percentage.  In most cases, when your Permanent Disability Percentage must be calculated, you will be required to undergo what’s called a Whole Person Impairment (WPI) assessment.  A WPI assessment is performed by a medical expert, and your percentage is thereafter determined through that expert’s opinion.  These medical experts can be your treating or regular doctor, Qualified Medical Evaluators, or another agreed upon or appointed medical evaluator.  In other cases, and usually in instances where the injured worker is significantly disabled, the percentage can be determined by a vocational expert or under a particular and relevant California law.

The Whole Person Impairment Assessment

When the medical expert conducts your WPI assessment, they will typically review your injuries, whether you have any residual medical problems, and whether you have any difficulty performing your daily activities, or Activities of Daily Living.  The expert will thereafter make their determination according to specific American Medical Association guidelines.  Your Permanent Disability Percentage will usually be assigned after the medical expert finds that your injury is permanent and stationary.  What this means is that you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) or the point where your condition has stabilized and is unlikely to improve or change substantially within the next year either with or without medical treatment.

Permanent Disability Percentages are calculated based on a formula that includes the medical expert’s impairment rating, and it is adjusted for your occupation, your age when you were injured, and your diminished future earning capacity.  Your final Permanent Disability Percentage can range from zero percent to one hundred percent.  A zero percent rating means that you have no reduction in your earning capacity whereas a one hundred percent rating represents total disability or Permanent Total Disability.  If your percentage is between zero and one hundred, your rating is considered to be Permanent Partial Disability.

As mentioned above, even if co-workers suffer same or similar injuries, the assigned Permanent Disability Percentages may be different.  This is because the options of the medical experts can vary significantly.  In other words, since different medical evaluators are likely to assess injuries in their own way, different medical evaluators are unlikely to render the same determinations regarding identical or similar injuries.

Experienced and Skilled Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in California

If you’ve suffered a workplace injury or illness and your injury or illness occurred in the San Bernardino, Hemet, or Inland Empire areas, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under California law.  Experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer Albert E. Hirst, III, has the dedication, knowledge, and the resources necessary to help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.  Call us today at (909) 885-7190 to schedule your free consultation and learn what we can do for you.