Permanent Disability (“PD”) is a percentage ultimately assigned to each injured worker who pursues a claim beyond “medical only.” It can range from 0% to 100%.
Thanks to “reforms” during the Schwarzenegger Administration, permanent disability was reduced by 60% over and above the reduction intended by the Legislature through SB 899 in 2004. The total reduction was 75%.
In an editorial in January 2012, David J. DePaolo, founder, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of WorkCompCentral, wrote: “One of the stated purposes of the 2004 reform laws that instituted a new permanent disability rating system based on the AMA Guides 5th edition was to promote uniformity and predictability.
About the only thing that is really uniform and predictable is that if an injured worker does not have an attorney then that injured worker will get significantly less money as compensation.”
“Apportionment to causation” required by Labor Code Section 4663 is usually unscientific and illogical. So, even though such apportionment is “antithetical” to California’s non-discrimination policies, it continues as to be “permissible and required by the principle that apportionment is based on causation.”
Coupled with the elimination of vocational rehabilitation, injured workers are left with little to help get back on their feet. Without legal assistance, the worker is likely to receive a paltry amount based solely on the tables in the AMA Guides, as assigned by a Qualified Medical Evaluator whose report may miss key elements of disability.
The lawyer’s role is to help injured workers get what they are entitled to, using knowledge of law, medicine, and vocational matters not accessible to the lay public.