State ex rel. Tradesmen Int’l v. Indus. Comm’n – Permanent Total Disability Affirmed

A total permanent disability as it relates to workers’ compensation law is one in which a person is unable to work in their own or in any job for which they may be suited by training, experience or education as a result of a workplace injury or illness.
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In South Carolina, per S.C. Code 42-9-10, a finding of permanent total disability will entitle claimant to receive benefits for a maximum 500 weeks (or nearly 10 years). Maximum weekly rates of compensation for permanent total disability in South Carolina was $744 in 2013, though the actual number will be based on what a person earned prior to the illness or injury.

While some states allow lifetime benefits for this finding, South Carolina caps it at 500 weeks – unless the work-related injury results in claimant suffering a substantial brain injury or becoming paraplegic or quadriplegic.

These tend to be very serious cases, and they require the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

The recent case of State ex rel. Tradesmen Int’l v. Indus. Comm’n was one out of Ohio in which a worker suffered an injury while working as a tradesman in July 2003.

Although court records for the Ohio Supreme Court do not detail the exact nature of the accident that prompted the claim, we do know claimant suffered a lower back sprain, a right shoulder sprain, a sprain to his left wrist, paracentral disc protrusion in his back, chronic pain syndrome and adjustment order with depression.He applied for permanent total disability.

His request was submitted with a report from his treating physician, dated in April of 2011. Doctor stated claimant had significant functional impairment. He was restricted to lifting just 10 pounds and he could not repetitively bend, twist, lift, push, pull or stoop. He would also need continuous rest that would include laying down to relieve the back pain, and would have a tough time maintaining a regular schedule.

Two other physician reports concurred.

Commissioner granted claimant permanent total disability benefits. His employer appealed, challenging the physicians’ reports.

However, the court of appeals concluded that while the doctor had indicated claimant could possibly do some sedentary work, the restrictions he outlined were so narrow that really all other types of employment were out of the question.

Company appealed to the state supreme court, which affirmed, finding no abuse of discretion.

Although it was noted plaintiff may potentially do some sedentary work, the other restrictions were so specific that the court was within its discretion to find plaintiff couldn’t work at all.

The court noted there was evidence to support the commission’s findings, and therefore, those findings should be upheld.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
State ex rel. Tradesmen Int’l v. Indus. Comm’n, June 24, 2015, Ohio Suprem Court

More Blog Entries:
Investigating Workers’ Compensation Fraud, May 28, 2015, Spartanburg Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog

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