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TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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This is a Workers Comp question. My brother lifted a heavy

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This is a Workers Comp question.

My brother lifted a heavy object and two disks in his back exploded. He went to the doctor and they scheduled surgery. His foot went completely numb. He had surgery and did well, but the foot is still numb and flaps when he walks. He had 12 weeks of pt with a little of improvement, but the foot is still numb. The doctor has ordered a test to see if the nerve in his foot will ever get better. His back still bothers him. He operates heavy equipment for a construction company. My questions is since he is not able to use his foot and his back is not a lot better, what are his possibilities of comp putting him on disability, partial disability, or light duty. There is no light duty at the company he works for. should he get an attorney?

Thank you for your question and I'm sorry to hear about your brother's injury.

Let me start by saying that these sort of injuries are very serious and can be permanently disabling. So, this claim is very serious and the workers compensation insurance carrier will be represented by a lawyer. With back injuries, the insurance carrier will often try to claim it was related to a pre-existing injury rather than occurring strictly at work. If your brother does not get a lawyer he will be at a disadvantage.

In Virginia, the doctor determines whether to release your brother to work light duty or whether to tell him that he is to stay off duty completely. If he is returned to light duty, but the employer has no light duty, your brother's temporary income benefits will remain the same (66.66% of his pre-injury average weekly wage). If your brother is determined by the doctor to have a whole body disability after he has gone through the surgeries, then he will be eligible for partial disability benefits in accordance with the percentage disability of his entire body as rated by his doctor.

He will also be given the opportunity to be retrained for a different career that will allow him to work with the level of disability that he is found to have after reaching maximum medical improvement.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

if he is placed on light duty does he have to obtain light duty and if he an not find any light duty, what happens. The company he works for evidently is self insured because he has not received anything from the state of Virginia. What is the percentage for back injury in Virginia

If he is placed on light duty and the employer does not have light duty work, he is required to make an "adequate search for work" within his limitations, and while he is doing this will receive temporary income benefits.

If and when he finds light duty work, if it pays less than what he was earning prior to the injury, he will receive partial disability benefits which pay the difference between what he earns now up to 66.66% of the pre-injury average weekly wage.

The percentage he will be paid for the back injury after maximum medical improvement depends on the doctor's assessment of his whole body percentage disability. Back injuries like the one your brother has can be from 5% up to 100% depending on the severity and loss of ability to move and lift connected with the back injury.
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