Proving Permanent Total Disability in Florida Workers Compensation Cases.
In Florida, for accidents happening after October 1, 2003, a person can establish entitlement to Permanent Total Disability benefits two ways. First, there are certain conditions set forth in the law that automatically entitle a person to Permanent Total Disability benefits unless the insurance company can show that the employee is capable of employment within a 50 mile radius of their residence. The conditions are:
1. Spinal cord injury involving severe paralysis of an arm, a leg, or the trunk;
2. Amputation of an arm, a hand, a foot, or a leg involving the effective loss of use of that appendage;
3. Severe brain or closed-head injury as evidenced by:
a. Severe sensory or motor disturbances;
b. Severe communication disturbances;
c. Severe complex integrated disturbances of cerebral function;
d. Severe episodic neurological disorders; or
e. Other severe brain and closed-head injury conditions
at least as severe in nature as any condition provided in sub-subparagraphs a.-d.;
4. Second-degree or third-degree burns of 25 percent or more of the total body
surface or third-degree burns of 5 percent or more to the face and hands; or
5. Total or industrial blindness.
Second, if the injured worker does not have a condition listed above, the worker has to prove there are no jobs the worker can perform within a fifty mile radius of his residence due to his physical and mental restrictions and other factors such as age, education, job skills learned in past employment that may allow the worker to perform similar jobs.
In many instances the insurance company uses the wrong impairment rating when paying impairment benefits. More importantly, insurance companies fight paying Permanent Total Disability payments because they don’t understand that a small impairment rating is not an indication of whether an injured worker will ever return to work.