Law Firm Blog

Permanent and Temporary Disability: What is the Difference?

The line between a permanent and temporary work-related disability moves depending on the victim’s maximum medical improvement. A job injury victim reaches MMI when, in the doctor’s opinion, the work-related injury will never get any better.

For example, if Sam breaks his arm at work, a physical therapist can usually restore most use. However, Sam might lose some range of motion in his shoulder, and in the doctor’s opinion, further treatment, be it drugs or physical therapy, would not help.

Many victims believe they are eligible for further job injury benefits when they receive MMI notifications. But that’s not true. A Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer still has legal options in these situations. We’ll examine some of these options in this post.

First, an important note. These options are only available if victims continue seeing their workers' compensation doctors at least once a year. Failure to do so usually means the loss of rights to any benefits.

Leave the Claim Open

Technically, if victims continue seeing their doctors, even though they have reached MMI, they keep their workers’ compensation claims open forever.

New medical innovations are very common. These innovations include stronger drugs and more advanced physical therapy techniques. Frequently, victims see their workers’ compensation doctors and learn about new treatments that completely restore their bodies.

Most victims choose this option if they cannot afford private medical care and, for whatever reason, they are not ready to settle their claims.

Vocational Retraining

Various programs are available, mostly from colleges and vocational schools, but also through the state. One of our close colleagues was a dentist for many years. An injury caused him to lose much of the use of his hand. So, he went to law school.

Retraining involves a financial incentive. Usually, the workers’ compensation insurance company must continue paying lost wage replacement benefits for at least six months in these situations, even if victims are on MMI.

Second Opinion

This option is not as viable as it was before. Florida legislators have significantly restricted a victim’s ability to get a paid-for second opinion. However, most victims still have the right to change doctors once.

Claim Settlement

MMI is an excellent time to consider claim settlement. At that point, medical treatment is complete, and a Tampa workers’ compensation lawyer can accurately determine the amount of future medical expenses and lost wages, if any.

These figures help determine a claim’s settlement value. Other factors include the insurance company’s willingness to settle the claim, the clarity of legal issues, mostly liability and damages, and the victim’s motivation to settle the claim.

Workers’ compensation settlements are final. Once they are done, they are almost impossible to undo. Therefore, settlement is a significant commitment. Victims and families must be truly ready to put their injuries behind them and move on with their lives.

Count on a Dedicated Hillsborough County Workers Compensation Lawyer

Injured workers have important legal and financial rights in Florida. For a free consultation with a board-certified workers’ compensation lawyer in Tampa, contact the Rooth Law Firm. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.