What is Permanent Partial Disability in Arkansas?

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If you suffered an injury at work, you might be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits for your injury.  Workers’ comp. pays different amounts of coverage for different injuries based on what kind of injury you sustained and how severe it is.  In many cases of amputation or total loss of function, permanent injuries yield high benefits – but what about partial injuries?  Fayetteville workers compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak discusses permanent partial disability and other workers’ comp. benefits.  If you need help applying for benefits or getting the coverage you need from workers’ comp., call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, for a free legal consultation.

How Long Does Permanent Partial Disability Last in Arkansas?

In Arkansas, there are multiple ways to categorize injuries and workers’ comp. coverage.  Injuries are typically considered either “permanent” or “temporary” as well as “partial” or “total.”  For instance, a broken wrist might be a temporary injury that loses the you total use of your arm, so it is a temporary total injury.  In contrast, loss of the first segment of your index finger might be a permanent injury, but it is only partial.  Moreover, certain injuries make it impossible to work at all and are considered simply “total” disabilities.  The workers’ comp. benefits you receive for an injury usually depend heavily on these classifications.

A permanent total injury often gets you workers’ comp. coverage according to the injury’s severity.  Many of these injuries are “scheduled,” meaning that Arkansas law specifically lists how many weeks of coverage you will receive for various types of injuries.  For instance, the loss of a first finger yields 43 weeks of benefits, the loss of a foot yields 131 weeks of benefits, and the loss of a hand yields 183 weeks of benefits.

The amount of compensation you receive during those weeks is based on your average weekly wage before the injury.  Typically, your average wage is calculated from pay stubs and other evidence, and you receive 66 2/3% of those wages in wage-loss benefits from workers’ comp.

In most cases, these injuries refer to total loss or total loss of function.  Generally, if you lost only partial function because of your injury, instead of receiving full workers’ comp. benefits, your benefits will be reduced to the percentage of function you lost.  That means if you lost 30% function in your hand rather than losing the whole hand, you will receive 30% of the benefits for the loss of a hand.

What is Considered a “Partial Disability” in Arkansas?

Human bodies are incredible in that they can continue to live and work and function even if parts are missing or unusable.  In this sense, any injury is “partial” compared to your whole body  – but workers’ comp. rules need to draw the line somewhere to schedule out compensation for various injuries.  The scheduled injuries listed in AR Code § 11-9-521(a) have individual entries for each finger, one entry for a big toe, and one entry for the other toes.  They also have listings for amputations above the elbow, below the elbow, above the knee, and below the knee, among others.  In this sense, many “partial” injuries are actually considered total injuries and injury victims can receive the full benefits for loss of that part of their body.

If you did not suffer a total loss of limb or complete loss of function, you may still be able to use part of the injured body part.  Arkansas law typically reduces benefits to cover the same percentage of the use you lost.  In the example listed above, 30% loss of function in a hand translates to 30% of the workers’ comp. benefits for a lost hand.  Some specific injuries have specific rules that override this:

  • Loss of a finger down to the first joint counts as 50% loss in the finger.
  • Loss of a finger down to the second joint counts as full loss of the finger.
  • Loss of 80% vision in an eye counts as loss of the whole eye.

In addition to these rules, the law considers you to be totally disabled if you lose any two limbs or an eye in any combination.  This means receiving full, ongoing wage-loss benefits for as long as your disability lasts rather than the scheduled benefits for each limb.

Moreover, loss of multiple fingers might be calculated as a partial loss of function in the hand instead of the sum of the benefits for each finger lost.  For example, compare the following example:

  • Loss of an index finger (43 weeks) and a pinky (19 weeks) is a total of 62 weeks of benefits.
  • Loss of a hand is 183 weeks of benefits.
  • Loss of 2 out of 5 fingers might instead be considered a 40% (2/5) loss of the hand for a total of 73.2 weeks of benefits (40% of 183 weeks) instead of 62 weeks.

In any case, the benefits for lost fingers cannot total more than the loss for a hand.  The same rules apply to lost toes.

Talk to a lawyer for help understanding how your injury is classified.  Many injuries are not listed on these schedules and are considered under different rules for “unscheduled” injuries.  These injuries are far more complex because they consider the injury a partial injury in relation to your whole body and assign benefits proportionately.

Call Our Fayetteville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation

If you or a loved one suffered a workplace injury and has a permanent partial disability, contact Fayetteville workers’ comp. lawyer Ken Kieklak to discuss your case.  Calculating workers’ comp. benefits can be complex, and your employer or their workers’ comp. insurance company may not give you the proper benefits for your injury.  Our attorney may be able to fight your case and get you the full compensation you are entitled to for both partial and total disabilities.  To schedule a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 439-1843.

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