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Rates and Durations for Permanent Partial Disability

If you are injured on the job in a way that affects your ability to work earning as much as you were before, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation disability benefits. If you are considered an employee for the purposes of workers’ comp, it can be helpful to know the amount of compensation to which you are entitled. It is important to speak with a skilled workers’ comp attorney to help ensure that you collect workers’ comp in a manner that will allow you to receive the maximum amount of benefits you deserve.

Formulas

Temporary payments will continue throughout the person’s healing period, until their doctors deems they have reached what is called Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), or the point at which their healing has plateaued and will not likely continue. Medical payments can still continue at this point for ongoing medical maintenance of the permanent injury or condition, but the way that disability payments for lost wages are calculated will change.

  • Permanent partial disability: If a person still suffers impairment to one of the body parts listed in the schedule below at the end of their healing period, they may be eligible for a set period of disability benefits regardless of how their earning capacity is currently affected. Your doctor will assign a disability rating to each affected body part on a scale of zero (0) percent to 100 percent. For example, if a construction accident maims your leg, your doctor might assign a disability rating of 60 percent to the leg once they deem you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement. This would mean you only have 40 percent functionality in that leg. This rating will affect this amount and duration of disability benefits you can receive for injuries with a less than 100 percent disability rating.
    • Scheduled injuries: Most of the schedule below is phrased in terms of total loss of a body part. An employee with such an injury is entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly wages at the time of the accident for the number of weeks listed in the schedule below.
      • However, more often than not, the permanent impairment will involve partial, not total, loss of functionality. If the impairment to the body part is less than 100 percent, the employee is entitled to receive an amount in proportion to their disability rating of two-thirds of their former average weekly pay. For example, if an employee suffers a leg injury with a 60 percent disability rating, he or she would be eligible for 60 percent of two-thirds of their average weekly wages, to continue for 60 percent of the time period set in the schedule below for full permanent incapacitation of a leg (200 weeks).

It should be noted that workers’ comp collected for loss of use of a body part under this schedule is in lieu of other workers’ comp disability payments, including permanent total disability under N.C.G.S. 97-29. Again, only a few limited types of impairment qualify for lifetime total disability payments under workers’ comp: loss of both hands, feet, legs, eyes, or any two thereof; spinal injury that involves severe paralysis of both legs, arms, or trunk; severe brain injury with permanent effects on cognitive function; and second or third-degree burns on over a third of the body.

Accepting a workers’ comp payment based on your disability rating starts the clock, so to speak, on a two-year deadline for filing a change of condition under N.C.G.S. 97-47. If you accept a ratings-based permanent partial disability payment but your condition worsens and/or has additional complications after that fact, you can be barred from future wage replacement benefits if you do not timely file for this change of condition. If you are considering accepting a disability payment based on a permanent partial disability rating, it can be important to speak with an experienced attorney first to weigh your options to ensure you are not precluded from the maximum amount of benefits you deserve.

N.C.G.S.97-31
Body PartLength of compensation period
Thumb75 weeks
First finger (index finger)45 weeks
Second finger40 weeks
Third finger25 weeks
Fourth finger (little finger)20 weeks
First phalange (joint) of the thumb or any finger½ of applicable period of time subscribed above
More than one finger phalangeTreated as loss of entire finger or thumb provided the compensation doesn’t exceed the amount provided for loss of a hand in this schedule
Big toe35 weeks
Toe other than the big toe10 weeks
First phalange (joint) of any toe½ of applicable period of time subscribed above
More than one toe phalangeTreated as loss of the entire toe
Hand200 weeks
Arm240 weeks
Foot144 weeks
Leg200 weeks
Eye120 weeks
Both hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, or any two of these
  • Treated as total and permanent disability, compensable for life (under N.C.G.S. 97-29)
  • Such a worker is additionally entitled to a minimum amount of compensation for the total number of weeks under this schedule for each body part
Complete loss of hearing in one ear70 weeks
Complete loss of hearing in both ears150 weeks
Partial loss of hearing in one earProportionate to amount of hearing lost, calculated with regards to complete loss in 1 ear amount of 70 weeks
  • I.e., if you suffer a 50 percent loss in hearing in one ear, workers’ compensation could be available for 35 weeks (70 x ½) past your initial healing period.
Total loss of vision of an eyeTreated as loss of an eye, i.e. 120 weeks
Partial loss of less than 85% of eyesight/use of eyeProportionate to amount of eyesight lost, calculated with regards to the amount for complete loss of eye (120 weeks)
Partial loss of 85% or more of vision in one eyeTreated as industrial blindness/total loss of an eye, i.e. 120 weeks
Serious disfigurement of the face or head
  • Includes when an eye had to be removed and an artificial eye cannot be fitted or used.
“Fair” compensation, capped $20,000
Serious bodily disfigurement that does not fall under any other section of this scheduleFair compensation, up to $10,000
Total loss of use of back300 weeks
Partial loss of less than 75% of use of backIn proportion to the amount of use lost, calculated with regards to 300 weeks
Partial loss of 75% or more of use of backTreated as total loss of use of back
Loss of/permanent injury to any important internal or external organ not elsewhere described in this schedule$20,000 per organ

If you or a loved one was injured on the job, it is important to speak with a skilled local workers’ compensation attorney. The workers’ comp attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC stand at the ready to step in and manage dealing with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (the organization that handles workers’ comp claims here), the employer and the insurance companies so that you can focus on your recovery. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys, now with offices in Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.

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