Most people spend a lot of time on their feet. Most jobs require some amount of standing and walking. Some jobs require you to be on your feet almost constantly.
Because of this, serious feet and ankle injuries cause big problems for many people. Often, these injuries occur as a result of falls, motor vehicle accidents, or crush injuries.
If you suffer a serious foot or ankle injury, that injury may have a permanent effect on your body. You need to know what happens under the Georgia workers’ compensation system when a work injury causes permanent disability to your foot or ankles.
What is permanent partial disability?
Permanent partial disability (PPD) is one of the three primary benefits provided by Georgia workers compensation. The other two benefits are income benefits for wage loss and medical benefits.
Permanent partial disability benefits compensate injured workers when they suffer permanent impairment as a result of a work-related injury. In Georgia, doctors assign a permanent partial disability rating using the 5th Edition of the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (often known as the AMA Guides).
Serious foot and ankle injuries often lead to some permanent impairment. They limit your ability to stand, walk, run, and climb. Your doctor should use the AMA Guides to determine your permanent partial disability rating once you reach maximum medical improvement.
This article will focus on PPD benefits for foot and ankle injuries. If you want a more complete picture of permanent partial disability benefits, please read this article.
What permanent partial disability does Georgia workers compensation law assign to my foot?
The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act has a specific part of the law that covers permanent partial disability. Part of that law is a “schedule of income benefits”. This schedule assigns a different amount of weekly benefits to many different body parts.
That schedule of benefits does not cover all body parts, but it does cover the feet. Under that schedule, your right foot is worth 135 weeks of PPD benefits and your left foot is worth 135 weeks of PPD benefits.
What permanent partial disability does Georgia workers compensation law assign to my ankle?
The schedule of income benefits does not specifically list out the ankle. Your ankle injury will probably be rated under one of two different body systems.
Your ankle injury could be rated under the lower extremity body system. Lower extremity just means your leg. Under the schedule of benefits, your right lower extremity is worth 225 weeks of PPD benefits and your left lower extremity is worth 225 weeks of PPD benefits.
The other body system under which your ankle could be rated is to the body as a whole. Your body as a whole is worth 300 weeks of PPD benefits.
How long will I receive permanent partial disability benefits for my foot or ankle injury
You do not usually receive the full number of weeks indicated in the schedule of income benefits. You would only receive the full number of weeks of benefits if you had a 100 percent disability to that body system.
Most of the time, the doctor assigns you some lesser percentage of disability to your body system. For example, your doctor might assign you a 10% PPD to your right foot. Since the whole right foot is worth 135 weeks of PPD benefits, a rating of 10% to your right foot would be worth 13.5 week of PPD benefits (10% of 135 weeks).
This same principle applies regardless of which body system the doctor rates. So, a 5% PPD rating to the body as a whole would be worth 15 weeks of PPD benefits (5% of 300 weeks).
How do I get my permanent partial disability rating?
Often, your treating doctor will give you a PPD rating without one being requested. So, you may get a rating without even having to ask. This often happens when you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Georgia law also requires the insurance company to request a PPD rating in certain situations. The main situation where the insurance company has to request a rating is where you stop getting other weekly income benefits and the doctor has not already given you a PPD rating.
What can I do if the doctor does not give me a permanent partial disability rating?
If you do not get a rating, you may need to request that the doctor give you one. You do not want to wait around for too long because there are time limits that apply to all three different types of Georgia workers compensation benefits.
These time limits are called statutes of limitation. As crazy as it seems, delay could cause you to lose your entitlement to certain types of workers compensation benefits.