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Navigating the Language of Workers' Compensation

For employees who have been injured on the job, understanding their rights under worker compensation laws can be daunting. Simply filing a claim involves a seemingly ever-changing tangle of rules and red-tape. Too often, a worker in real need of medical help never receives assistance because they were unable to understand the procedures or gave up due to frustration. And sadly, matters are growing increasingly complicated as more states adopt new legislation that further limits the rights of employees. More, now than ever, workers find that the best way to ensure fair treatment is to utilize the services of a workers’ compensation attorney. But workers can also improve their position by understanding a few of the commonly used terms that may appear when pursuing benefits.

Average Weekly Wage (AWW): the average amount a worker earned for a certain period of time, upon which benefits are determined. Rules for calculating this amount vary.

State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW): the average amount earned by workers in a state for a certain period of time. The SAWW is usually used to determine the minimum and maximum of workers’ compensation benefits injured employees may receive. Rules for calculating this amount vary.

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI): the point at which an injured worker has reached his or her maximum level of healing. This may be defined as either an injury that is considered healed or one for which no further improvement is possible.

Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): usually defined as a disability that causes the total or partial loss of, or loss of use of, one or more body parts. A person with a PPD may be considered eventually capable of performing some level of work. The scope, eligibility and benefits due for this type of disability vary.

Permanent Total Disability (PTD): usually defined as a disability so extensive as to permanently prevent a worker from returning to any type of employment. The scope, eligibility, and benefits due for this type of disability vary.

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): a temporary disability that may allow a worker to perform a limited amount of work, or “light duty”, while he or she is still considered to be healing. The scope, eligibility, and benefits due for this type of disability vary.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD): a temporary disability that temporarily prevents a worker from returning to his or her duties in any capacity (in some cases, this can also include an employee who has been cleared for light duty while still recovering, but whose employer is unable to make accommodations for such work). The scope, eligibility, and benefits due for this type of disability vary.

These terms represent just a very small snapshot of the language often present in the workers’ compensation system. As laws and procedures vary from state to state and case to case, which can further change even the definitions presented above, it is vital for workers to familiarize themselves with those that apply to their situation. Reviewing even a few of the terms, such as the ones listed above, can help remove some of the confusion, frustration and intimidation so commonly associated with workers’ compensation. Even better, you and your Chicago workers compensation attorney will be able to communicate more effectively, helping to ensure the success of your case.

About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation attorney that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.

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