Permanent Total Disability in Illinois Workers’ Compensation Cases

October 21, 2020


Brent Eames

What happens after a work-related injury when you are released from medical care with permanent restrictions which prevent you from being able to return to work in any capacity?  You might be a candidate for an award of permanent total disability benefits (PTD).  These PTD awards are the largest which the Workers’ Compensation Act provides.  If you are found to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of  a work injury, you will be entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wage for the rest of your life, subject to the statutory minimum and maximum disability benefit rates.  Given that these awards are based upon a lifetime of lost earnings, the potential value can easily surpass one million dollars depending upon the injured workers’ earning capacity, and life expectancy. 

How do you know if you qualify for permanent total disability benefits?  There are several ways to present evidence to establish that you are permanently and totally disabled.  The first is the medical evidence itself.  If your related medical records or your doctor’s testimony confirm that your injuries render you permanently disabled from working in any capacity, that can be the strongest evidence for your case.  That medical evidence in and of itself can sometimes be grounds for an award for PTD benefits.  Another very effective piece of evidence would be proof of a diligent but unsuccessful job search after you are released with permanent restrictions.  If you are able to provide proof that you have genuinely tried to find work within your permanent work restrictions, but you have been unable to do so after a considerable amount of time, that is very important evidence that there is no steady labor market for your services.  As a result, you could qualify for a permanent total disability award. 

Last, but not least, you could be found eligible for an award for PTD benefits based upon the odd lot theory of permanent total disability.  The odd lot comes into play when an injured worker may not be automatically disabled based upon the medical evidence, but given all of the relevant factors for finding work, including things such as the worker’s education, work history, age, and spoken languages, the worker is not employable given their permanent physical or mental restrictions.  These issues come up frequently for unskilled workers with limited transferable skills who suffer significant injuries which prevent them from returning to their prior labor-intensive positions.

Whenever an injured worker suffers an injury which results in a permanent restriction and an inability to return to their prior occupation, it is always worth considering whether they might be a candidate for a permanent total disability award.  Many times, the only way these determinations can be made is based upon retained expert testimony. Illinois workers’ compensation attorney Brent Eames is experienced in handling claims for permanent total disability, and has recovered millions of dollars in lost earnings for his clients.   You should schedule a consultation with your Chicago work comp attorney to discuss your rights, and your options to make sure you can maximize your potential award or work comp. settlement.

Chicago workers’ compensation attorney Brent Eames recently participated in the Illinois State Bar Association’s Ask a Lawyer program and offered information for injured workers to consider regarding permanent total disability benefits.  Check it out here:

The Illinois State Bar Association is a not-for-profit, voluntary-membership association, composed of 28,000 lawyer members. In addition to providing professional services for lawyers, the Association strives to inform the public about their rights and responsibilities under the law, about the qualifications of candidates for judicial office, about the availability of legal services in all parts of the state, and other useful information for the public.

The content of this video and blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact any attorney at Eames Law Group, Ltd.

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