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Legal Definition of Permanent Total Disability

Updated July 28, 2022 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

WKW Defines Permanent Total Disability

 A Definition of Permanent Total Disability

PTD, also known as permanent total disability, are those benefits awarded to employees who are permanently or completely disabled from a work related injury. If an employee is unable to work due to injuries, Indiana law states that an employer’s workers’ compensation pays those benefits.

Even if a disabled employee collects PTD, they can still file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for the at-fault third-party’s injury-causing negligence. For example, if Bob is hit by a third-party driver while completing a delivery for his employer, he has two claims: (1) a workers’ compensation claim because he suffered a work related injury; and (2) a personal injury claim against the third-party driver who crashed into him.

Standards of Permanent Total Disability

PTD is awarded based on whether or not a worker can perform a job based upon their training, education, and experience. If those background qualifications are no longer enough for them to be able to perform their job to the required standard, then they may be eligible for PTD.

Suppose someone loses the use of both arms late in their construction career. They would qualify for PTD benefits. If they were a writer with modern-day technology, they might be able to dictate their work, meaning they may not be eligible for PTD benefits. Profession and injury types both play a role in whether or not someone qualifies for PTD.

PTD Benefits Based Upon State Law

If a work injury has left you permanently disabled in Indiana, you may be eligible for PTD or permanent partial impairment (PPI). Your disability coverage comes from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance as you recover toward maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI means your injury has healed as much as it ever will.

Once your doctor has declared that you have reached MMI, you will need to get a PPI rating, which is calculated as a percentage of the loss or lost use of a body part or bodily function.

 Once you have received your PPI rating, a codified—and complicated—mathematical formula will be used to convert that rating into a dollar amount for your disability benefits:

  • Depending on which parts of your body are impaired and to what degree, your rating will be converted into a number of degrees.
  • Specific body parts (like the extremities) and senses (sight and hearing) will be given their own values expressed as degrees.
  • Other injuries or conditions that aren’t listed may be considered impairments to the whole body, which usually comes with a value of 100 degrees.
  • Your PPI rating percentage will be multiplied by your assigned degrees for your affected body parts.
  • Your PPI benefits will be determined by multiplying each impairment degree by a set dollar amount that goes up in increments.

PPI amounts are usually paid weekly. If your injury or condition prevents you from all work, you should be eligible for PPI benefits (500 weeks at the temporary total disability rate) or the amount from your PPI calculation, whichever is more.

The state of Indiana does limit the total amount of workers’ compensation benefits someone can receive—including temporary disability, PPI, and PTD. Although medical benefits aren’t limited. The maximum is $390,000 for injuries that occurred after June 2016.

Each state has its own PPI/PTD laws. One of our experienced lawyers at WKW can help you better understand Indiana’s disability laws and rules for calculating compensation amounts.

How to Prove Permanent Total Disability

At WKW, we help injured clients who have lost their jobs organize their documentation to show how difficult their injuries have made it for them to find a new job and/or maintain regular employment.

In addition to this, one of the most important aspects of most disability cases is acquiring expert medical opinions to determine what percentage of a person is impaired. Our team works with only the best physicians to draw up these reports.

 We also work with vocational experts to help determine the full extent of a client’s disability. A vocational expert can do the following things to evaluate and help prove disability:

  • They can analyze what types of work will be impossible for the injured worker to perform. For example, injuries may limit an injured worker’s ability to do any heavy lifting. They may only be able to take a job with light lifting.
  • They can create a breakdown explaining why the worker who may not have all of the usual required education could transition to work beyond physical labor.
  • They can express opinions as to how long it might take for an unskilled worker to be retrained for a new field. This is not always possible or successful.
  • They can suggest a transfer within a job already held. Maybe an assembly worker can do light lifting, but they can no longer bend or twist.
  • They can present studies that show older workers (if the plaintiff is older) have trouble being hired in physical jobs.
  • They can help the injured party apply for jobs. If the plaintiff’s applications are universally rejected, this can help prove their injuries may make it impossible for them to reenter the job market.
  • Using the above strategies, they can draw conclusions as to how likely it is that the injured worker can reenter the job market.

Settlements in PTD Cases

 When it comes to PTD cases and other large workers’ compensation cases, it’s important to factor in Social Security Disability Insurance payments. The issue is that these payments can be reduced down to 80% if they are more than 80% of the injured worker’s average earnings. This complication can be settled in a variety of ways, especially if the injured worker accepts a lump sum, as opposed to smaller weekly payments.

Reach Out to WKW to Speak With an Experienced Injury Accident Attorney in Indianapolis

Our dedicated team of lawyers has been recognized and awarded for their work. Three of our attorneys have been recognized on the Indiana Super Lawyers List, two of whom have been included in the Top 10 Indiana Super Lawyers list.

With more than 30 years of experience, WKW will investigate and analyze every part of your case to ensure you get the assistance and compensation that you need. Whether your case is negotiated at settlement or brought to trial, WKW is ready for any challenge.

Because of our extensive experience handling auto accident and injury cases, our attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham can help you get the compensation you deserve. We serve clients throughout the Indianapolis area and beyond.

 Call 317.920.6400 or fill out our online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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