The physical pain and emotional turmoil associated with a workplace injury or illness may only be part of the problems you face. A serious injury could mean you are unable to work for quite some time, denying you and your family of income you rely on to survive. Your employer’s workers’ compensation scheme should provide for the medical expenses and a proportion of your average weekly wage but, if you are left with a permanent disability, you will eventually need to claim disability benefits. Despite it being evident that you need financial assistance, injured employees all too often find that their claims are rejected, delayed, or miscalculated. At a time when you are already struggling with recovery and rehabilitation, alongside the major adjustment required to accept your permanent disability, being left out of pocket is unacceptable.
As worker’s compensation specialists, each of the firm’s Santa Clarita permanent disability partner attorneys at Koszdin, Fields & Sherry are very familiar with the ins and outs of claiming disability benefits, and in identifying the best way to proceed in your individual circumstances.
Permanent Disability: What It Means
Any workplace injury can have a long-lasting impact on your life, but some of the most severe could leave you permanently disabled and unable to return to your job. In some cases, you may be able to return to some form of work eventually, but not at the same level that you had previously reached, greatly reducing your earning capacity. For this reason, disability benefits are based on levels of impairment, with the payments you receive being calculated according to the percentage of disability cited by your doctors.
Doctors treating workers’ compensation claimants are asked to determine when the patient has reached the standard known as maximal medical improvement, or MMI. A patient who reaches maximum improvement in their condition is thought to be unable to improve further, even with the continuation of treatment. It is only once MMI has been reached that a claimant in a workers’ compensation case can be considered for permanent disability benefits.
Some patients reach MMI rather quickly, but others may take many months longer to reach this plateau in improvement. The condition and the severity of injury or illness largely dictates the length of time it takes for a condition to have met the MMI standard. For instance, there is a significant difference in the amount of time it takes to reach maximum recovery after breaking a leg on the job than there is for battling cancer caused by workplace exposure to carcinogens.
This impairment rating can be allocated incorrectly by insurance companies, who place priority on their own profit margins rather than the impact on your life. When you hire a Santa Clarita permanent disability lawyer from Koszdin, Fields & Sherry to handle your case, we will not accept anything less than the full amount – and correct rating – that you should receive, enlisting experts such as agreed medical evaluators (AME) or qualified medical evaluators (QME) where necessary.
If you have been out of work due to a workplace injury, we would strongly recommend that you discuss your case with one of our outstanding attorneys, to make sure you receive the benefits you deserve.
How Often Do Workplace Injuries Happen in Santa Clarita, California?
According to figures published by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, a 2016 survey into occupational injuries and illness in the state revealed:
- 466,600 reportable non-fatal workplace injuries
- A clear majority of workplace injury occurs within the service industry, with fewest happening within computer, engineering and science roles
Although workers in certain industries are statistically more likely to be hurt at work or develop a workplace illness, the truth of the matter is that injuries and illnesses related to employment can occur across all sectors of the job market. In 2021, Liberty Mutual released its annual Workplace Safety Index report, a yearly look at injuries in the workplace, including those that result in disability among those injured.
This eye-opening report sheds more light on the types of injuries that tend to lead to disability—or at the very minimum, a significant amount of time spent off work due to the injuries sustained. In order of prevalence among workers, the top causes of disabling workplace injuries include:
- The handling of heavy objects, such as boxes.
- Falls that originate from the same level, usually occurring due to slippery or wet floors.
- Falls from a higher level to a lower level, such as when a worker falls from a ladder or scaffolding.
- Workers being struck by objects (typically objects that fall from above).
- Unnatural or awkward body postures, such as those that occur when a worker steps down from a delivery van.
- Motor vehicle accidents, including those accidents that result from negligent behavior such as distracted driving.
- Slipping and tripping (no fall), sometimes caused by a slippery or uneven floor surface.
- Workers colliding with objects, machinery, or equipment, including those that are fixed in position in the workspace.
- Workers becoming entangled in the moving or rotating parts of equipment or machinery.
- Workers whose jobs entail repetitive motions, including movements of the hands and shoulders.
Take Action Today
Being injured is hard enough—fighting for the compensation you deserve for your injury can add to the frustration and difficulties you are already facing. Don’t go it alone. Even if you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits before, the Santa Clarita permanent disability attorney at Koszdin, Fields & Sherry wants to help. Trust our team to go to bat for you, standing up to the big insurance companies to help you get the disability benefits to which you are entitled.