As a business owner, you take every measure possible to reduce the chance of injury to your employees as much as possible. Unfortunately, no matter how much you strive for an injury-free work place, it is overwhelmingly likely that an injury will eventually occur. If during the course and scope of employment, your employee sustains an injury, he or she will likely be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The type and percentage of disability is a central component of disability claims.
The California Department of Industrial Relations defines permanent disability as “any lasting disability from your work injury or illness that affects your ability to earn a living.” If an employee is permanently disabled, he or she will be entitled to permanent disability benefits, regardless of whether that injury renders him or her unable to work in the future. In most cases, permanent disability is determined through Whole Person Impairment (WPI). This will be determined after the employee is examined by his or her doctor or a Qualified Medical Evaluator. The doctor or QME will determine the percentage of impairment level, meaning how the injury will impact the employee in his or her ability to work. The QME will use the standards established by the American Medical Association in making this determination. The impairment level will then be reduced to a percentage, using a formula which also takes into account the employee’s age and occupation. In cases involving psychological injuries, the injury must either be categorized as catastrophic or the employee must have witnessed a violent crime in the course and scope of employment. Taking all of these elements into account, the disability evaluator or the judge will then use the statutory formula and decide the amount of permanent disability the employee is entitled to receive. The amount the employee will be entitled to receive will also be impacted by the date of the injury in addition to the wages paid to the employee before he or she was injured. The permanent disability benefits typically begin being paid after the end of temporary benefits and the doctor indicates that the injury has “stabilized.” This means that the injury will not heal or improve any more.
If you have questions about disability payments to your employees, contact us today. We look forward to discussing workers’ compensation with you and what we can do to help protect you.