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Worker's Compensation

FAQs: What is Permanent Total Disability?

Trial Pro P.A. is proud to advocate for accident victims all over the state of Florida, including from our Central Florida office in Orlando. Our dedicated experienced personal injury attorneys handle a range of legal matters, from employment disputes to auto accidents claims. We can use our knowledge and legal skills to help you not only achieve a favorable outcome, but relieve the legal burden from your shoulders as well. Our entire team understands how challenging and confusing litigation can be, which is why we are here for you through every step of the process.

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Frequently Asked Questions - What is Permanent Total Disability?

Permanent Total Disability (PTD) in Florida workers’ compensation law refers to a class of benefits that are available to the most severely injured workers. Essentially to qualify for PTD benefits in Florida, you need to have sustained an injury that prevents you from engaging in gainful employment in the future. If you qualify for these benefits, you can receive up to two thirds of your pre-accident wages up until age 75 (or for life if your accident was before 10/1/03).  Like many benefits in Florida, the specific benefit entitlement and burden of proof required to receive these benefits is dependent on when the accident happened.

For accidents occurring after 10/1/03, you can receive PTD benefits if you can show an inability to engage in even sedentary work. Sedentary work means that you are not required to carry or lift more than ten pounds regularly or be walking or standing for a good part of the day. As with almost all benefits in workers’ comp, the burden for proving entitlement is on the injured worker. The Employer/Carrier are not required to prove that you can work; rather you must prove that you can’t. In only very limited circumstances is that burden shifted to the E/C. Those circumstances are a severe spinal cord injury causing paralysis, amputation or effective loss of a hand or foot, a severe brain or closed head injury, significant second or third degree burns, and blindness. For any other injury, the injured worker has the burden of proving an inability to work.

So how does one go about proving an inability to work? You might think that the testimony of the injured worker would be significant in determining whether he or she can work. After all, who knows better than you whether you are physically able to do the job?  Unfortunately, the law requires much more than your opinion about whether you can do your job. In the overall scheme of things, your opinion or that of your attorney about your work ability is insignificant at best. For an opinion about your work ability to count in the workers’ comp court, it must come from a doctor and not just any doctor. The opinion must be from a doctor authorized by the insurance company, or an independent medical doctor, or a court appointed doctor. Any other doctor, no matter how qualified, is not somebody that the judge can rely on in a workers’ comp case. Once you get one of these doctors to say that you’re as good as you’re going to get, and that you can’t engage in the job you were doing at the time of the accident, does that mean you’re PTD? Unfortunately not. The question the doctor has to answer is not whether you can do your old job, but what are the permanent restrictions that you have as a result of your workers’ comp injury. If you have no medical restrictions, your chances of receiving PTD benefits are nil. Even if you have permanent light duty restrictions, this does not mean you are entitled to PTD benefits. Remember the test is whether you can do even sedentary work, which is even less than light duty.

So proving that you are incapable of work and thus entitled to PTD benefits becomes a combination of proving a medical condition or disability related to the workplace accident as well as showing vocational evidence of an inability to work. So how does one show vocational evidence an inability to work? Well, not surprisingly, one of the most common methods is by providing evidence from a vocational expert. This expert, who almost always has a master’s or doctorate degree, is educated and trained in knowing the labor market and the requirements of various jobs. The vocational expert will look at the medical restrictions, take inventory of the injured worker’s education and work history, and then make a determination about whether there are suitable jobs in the economy for the injured worker to be able to return to work. If the vocational expert’s opinion is that there are not suitable jobs within your medical limitations to return to gainful employment, then you have enough evidence to make what is called a prima facie case of entitlement to permanent total disability benefits.

One of the other ways of providing vocational evidence of an inability to work and thus entitlement to PTD benefits is to engage in an exhaustive, good faith, and yet unsuccessful job search. Well how does one do that? To be exhaustive, you have to look for numerous jobs over a good length of time. Every judge will have different requirements based on the facts of the particular case, but a good rule of thumb is that you are making four or more prospective job contacts a week over a period of a year or more. If you make substantially less contacts that that, the judge may believe that you have not sufficiently tested the job market to be entitled to permanent total disability benefits. Another requirement of your job search is that it be in “good faith”. In other words, the judge has to believe that your actions demonstrate that you are actually trying to get a job. You have to check with employers who are actually hiring for jobs that you are both physically capable of doing and you have training or skills to do. If you’ve driven trucks for the last fifteen of your life and you have no education past high school, the judge isn’t going to consider job contacts with a minimum of an advanced college degree to be in good faith. Finally, to be a job search that shows you may be entitled to PTD benefits, your job search has to be unsuccessful. If you find a job and are able to do that job, it’s obviously going to be impossible to prove to the satisfaction of the judge or anyone else for that matter that you are unemployable. Now just because you’re offered a job doesn’t mean you can do it. If you make a legitimate effort to do a job you are offered and you find that you are not able to do it, it count still be used to show an exhaustive but unsuccessful good faith job search.

Since PTD are benefits that can be paid out over decades, insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to resist providing these benefits. One of the easiest and most common techniques that insurance companies will use is to offer the injured worker a job. Even if you can’t do your full duty, 60 hour a week, $25 an hour job that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a lighter job working 32 hours a week making $10 per hour. Unfortunately, this will most always be conclusive evidence to the judge that you are capable of gainful employment. The job does not have to pay you what you are used to making or even what you need to earn to pay your bills to be a legitimate job offer that the employer can use to defeat your claim for PTD benefits.

Another way that insurance companies will defend your claim for permanent total disability benefits is by attacking the doctor’s opinions about your work capabilities. They will use subtle and sometimes not so subtle pressure to try to get the doctors to whom they often send business to say that you are capable of lifting 25 pounds instead of just 10, or that some of your disability is pre-existing, or that you are exaggerating your symptoms. They will conference the doctors without you being present, sometimes even showing them surveillance video of you engaged in certain activities, and try to convince the doctors that you are very much capable of work.

Yet another tactic that insurance companies will use to try to defeat your claim for permanent total disability is to hire their own vocational expert. This hired gun knows that it is his or her job to say that you can work, that despite your physical limitations there are plenty of jobs in the geographical area that you live in that you are capable of doing. Thus, it is very possible for you to prove to the judge that you can only lift 15 pounds instead of the 100 pounds you used to be able to lift, that now you can make only $10 an hour instead of the $32 per hour that you were used to making, and that you can only work forty hours a week instead of all the overtime you used to work - and guess what, you still lose your case.

Is this fair? Obviously not. The workers’ compensation system isn’t designed to be fair. You usually don’t get to pick the doctors who express opinions about whether you can work or not, whether you have a pre-existing condition, or whether you’re “gaming” the system. The insurance company gets to do that. You don’t get paid for lifelong wage loss, if there is some job out there that you are capable of doing. You don’t get paid for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, or many of the other damages you can recover in a persona injury claim.

Your permanent total disability hearing will not be held in front of a jury of your peers. Rather, it will be decided by a workers’ compensation judge who very often worked for insurance companies and employers before getting appointed to the bench. And if you do win, that doesn’t mean your case is over. The insurance company only has to pay benefits through the date of the hearing. The law provides ways for them to challenge your continuing right to receive these PTD benefits.

Because PTD benefits are significant, and because they are not easy to secure, you need experienced counsel fighting for your benefits. While we can’t tell you that you are or are not entitled to these benefits, Trial Pro, P.A. will do whatever we can to secure the benefits you are entitled to. You deserve an attorney who will take the time to understand the facts of your case, explain how the law works given the facts of your case, and do what they can to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to. Let us help you get everything you deserve!

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At Trial Pro, our traffic collision attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. That means we cover the costs of investigating, constructing, negotiating and litigating your lawsuit. We do not bill you anything unless we recover compensation on your behalf. If we do not win your case, you will owe us nothing.

Our Orlando injury attorneys also offer potential clients no cost evaluations to discuss the details of their claim and determine if you have a suit. Schedule a Free Consultation

If you or somebody else you love has been impaired due to someone else's negligence or neglectfulness, you need a renowned attorney by your side who is familiar with the statutes and regulations in Florida.

Our Orlando injury attorneys are experts in personal injury lawsuits and have been acknowledged by our peers for our success. Several of our lawyers have been mentioned as Super Lawyers and distinguished litigators for their success on behalf of our clients.

We have recovered favorable judgments and settlements that contributed in assisting personal injury victims recoup from their injuries, pain and suffering and medical bills, or the loss of a loved one. Let us help you recover the max amount of compensation you are entitled to for your personal injuries.

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With more than a century of collective legal experience and a commitment to hard work, excellence, and integrity, we have recovered millions of dollars in damages on behalf of our clients. Our goal is to enable our clients to sit back and focus on their recovery, knowing that the team at Trial Pro, P.A. has the experience and resources to effectively handle all of the legal details involved in their case.

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Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible for you. You don't even have to come into our office if you are unable to travel or adjust your schedule to make it to us. We're more than happy to come to you!

In addition to traveling directly to our clients, the team at Trial Pro, P.A. also pledges to provide clear advice and regular client communication. We know how important regular contact with our clients is - we never leave you hanging or delay our responses.

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686590

FL Drivers Involved in Accidents in 2017

Annually millions of americans are injured, in many instances fatally, in car accidents. In 2011 only, more than 2.2 million people were hurt in the estimated 5,338,000 police-reported car accidents and 32,367 killed in traffic accidents involving automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, and bicycles.

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Our legal team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to answer your questions and offer expert advice. Our friendly staff is always accessible to meet or speak with you 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. If you or a loved one has been injured, please call Trial Pro immediately to speak with one of our Florida attorneys today. Remember, don't just hire any attorney, hire a Trial Pro!

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Each Trial Pro attorney and staff member is determined to see your case as far along as necessary to get you every cent that you deserve. Our friendly staff is always accessible to meet or speak with you 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. If you or a loved one has been injured, please call Trial Pro immediately to speak with one of our Florida attorneys today. Remember, don't just hire any attorney, hire a Trial Pro!

Piercy Stakelum Personal Injury Attorney

Piercy Stakelum

Senior Attorney

Piercy Stakelum, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, is the senior attorney at Trial Pro., P.A. Mr. Stakelum carries a zealous nature and his motor is fighting for those who have been compromised. Ask him what his heart yearns for and he’ll summarize it in one word: justice.

Andy Rariden Personal Injury Attorney

Andy Rariden

Senior Attorney

Andy Rariden is a leading civil trial lawyer that adds to the collective legal expertise at Trial Pro, P.A. Although he is originally from Charleston, S.C., Mr. Rariden was raised in Florida. He carries over 20 years of civil trial experience and is committed to defending each of his clients.

Brian Davis Personal Injury Attorney

Brian Davis

Senior Attorney

Mr. Davis has built up over two decades of extensive experience trying and disputing cases for clients. Over time, the proficient lawyer has handled a wide range of cases, obtaining successes in lawsuits involving car accidents, medical malpractice, and more.

Don Williams Personal Injury Attorney

Don Williams

Senior Attorney

A native of Orlando, Don Williams has provided commitment and dedicated legal representation to clients throughout the area. The proficient attorney has a keen heart for helping others which is one among many attributes that distinguish him as a leader.

Tyler Nicoll Personal Injury Attorney

Tyler Nicoll

Senior Attorney

Born in Ohio, Tyler Nicoll is a dedicated personal injury attorney and an integral part of the Trial Pro, P.A. team. Mr. Nicoll was raised in Coral Springs, Florida. Mr. Nicoll's primary areas of practice include personal injury accidents, overtime disputes and other related matters.

Mike Davis Personal Injury Attorney

Mike Davis

Senior Attorney

Mike Davis holds over twenty years of professional legal experience under his belt and he is always ready to utilize it in favor of his clients. He is an established professional in the industry, uniquely qualified to provide legal counsel to individuals who have been compromised.

Steve Johnson Personal Injury Attorney

Steve Johnson

Senior Attorney

At the beginning of Steve Johnson's legal career, he advocated for clients such as General Motors and Ford Company. As time went by, the attorney realized he held a special interest for insurance disputes and decided to join the team of Trial Pro law professionals.

Marc Williams Personal Injury Attorney

Marc Williams

Senior Attorney

Marc Williams is an invaluable member of Trial Pro. P.A., dedicated to handling first party insurance claims arising out of Southwest Florida. He has been recognized as a professional in the field, becoming a recipient of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers Bronze Eagle Award.

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Multiple Locations

Based in Florida, Trial Pro, P.A. represents clients across Florida from our offices in Miami, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Naples, Delray Beach, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach. We are dedicated to fully serving you at every degree. Our vow is to make the entire process of working with us as easy and as stress-free as possible. Therefore, we are more than happy to meet with you at your home, place of employment, hospital room, or any other place that you find more convenient. You are always welcome to come into our office as well.

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The Trial Pro, P.A. attorneys carry more than a century of collective legal experience and decades of working together as a team. We have represented hundreds if not thousands of people who have been injured as a result of car accidents, slip-and-fall, workers comp’ cases and more. One thing that is clear to us is the essence of partnership. Without it, Trial Pro, P.A. could not be as effective in attaining success for our clients.

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After experiencing an automobile accident, the last thing you desire is to have an attorney at hand that doesn’t know how to adequately represent you. You want a reputable law firm that will fearlessly fight to acquire optimal compensation on your behalf. This is exactly what Trial Pro, P.A. does. Our lawyers hold a strong reputation for winning cases, and we do everything in our hands to deliver the results you’re expecting.

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Our team at Trial Pro, P.A. doesn’t just glance over your case and throws it to the side. We don’t see you as just another number. In order to obtain victory on your behalf, our personal injury attorneys take a closer look at the details. We believe that quality legal representation is tied to full commitment – not a job that’s done halfway. When you choose Trial Pro, P.A., we prove that mediocrity isn’t in our DNA.

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Our team at Trial Pro, P.A. doesn’t just glance over your case and throws it to the side. We don’t see you as just another number. In order to obtain victory on your behalf, our personal injury attorneys take a closer look at the details. We believe that quality legal representation is tied to full commitment – not a job that’s done halfway. When you choose Trial Pro, P.A., we prove that mediocrity isn’t in our DNA.

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Experts in Personal Injury Law

At Trial Pro, P.A. We're expert Personal Injury Attorneys. Our trial lawyers in Fort Myers specialize in all types of personal injury claims. Trial Pro, P.A. was founded in 2001 and has grown to include five class A offices across Florida staffed with expert personal injury lawyers and support teams. Trial Pro and its expert Personal Injury Attorneys have been selected to Best Law Firms in America, Lawyers of Distinction, America's Top One Percent, Top 100 U.S. Law Firms, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and received many more distinctions and awards.

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At Trial Pro, we don't sit back, cross our fingers, and hope for our case to settle. Our Personal Injury Attorneys in Naples aggressively bring the fight to the insurance company. We'll leave no stone unturned in our effort to maximize the value of your case because we know that the only number that matters to you is the amount of money that you get in your pocket at the end. We fight for your harms, losses, pain, suffering, inability to enjoy life, disability, inconvenience, lost earnings, mental anguish, scarring, medical bills, and so much more. We understand how your injuries affect you and your family. We'll work hard for a fast recovery for you. But getting you the right money is much more important that just getting you fast money.

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While Trial Pro has the resources to fight the biggest companies, we're not a law factory and you're not "just another number." Our expert Personal Injury Attorneys in Tampa are much more than experienced, aggressive personal injury specialists. We're advocates for our clients in Tampa. We care deeply about you and your recovery, which is why the majority of our clients are referred to us by former clients, doctors, and other attorneys.

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What Our Clients Say About Our Personal Injury Attorneys

Former Trial Pro, P.A. clients constantly testify of how happy they were when we resolved their case. This is our main priority – to go above and beyond their expectations. Yes, we measure our success by the number of court victories we’ve attained. However, we also measure effectiveness by our clients’ satisfaction and experience with Trial Pro, P.A. Most of them come from other firms feeling ignored and rejected. When they transfer over to us, we work hard to radically change their situation and win their litigation case.
If you are in one of these former clients’ shoes and find yourself strongly dissatisfied with your current car accident attorney or firm, we want to represent you!
Our injury attorneys are always happy to answer any questions you may have and inform you about the experience we provide.

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I would definitely come back to Trial Pro, because I can't even tell you the great experience I had. The comfort and the sense of the putting me at peace is priceless.

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When we switched over to Trial Pro, I felt as if my voice was heard. I felt as if the person who was taking care of my case really understood me, and understood my needs.

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The Trial Pro, P.A. reputable attorneys genuinely care about their clients. They don’t see them as just another number or face. Neither are they more interested in money than obtaining quality results. Our attorneys are honest, compassionate and work hard to go above and beyond expectations.

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I was hesitant to bring my case to an attorney. Trial Pro, P.A. showed me nothing but integrity and professionalism.

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Trial Pro, P.A. guided me carefully through my case and constantly kept me informed. I was astounded by the attorneys’ aggressive way of fighting.

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I’ve partnered with this reputable law firm for legal representation two times and both instances were victorious. Trial Pro P.A’s chief attorney, Piercy Stakelum, always took the time to sit with me and provide undivided attention.

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I didn’t have to wait on return phone calls. As soon as I left a message, they were waiting for me on the other line.

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All of the attorneys were truly attentive to my needs and the representation they provided surpassed my expectations. It was top-notch.

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At no point I felt nervous for no reason my attorney was there all the time to suppoert me. Thank You Trial Pro, P.A.

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The transition was beautiful! I didn't have to do anything just sign and Trial Pro took care of everything for me.

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When we switched over to Trial Pro, I felt as if my voice was heard. I felt as if the person who was taking care of my case really understood me, and understood my needs.

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Our main priority is our clients’ healing and recovery process. While you focus on getting better, we focus on achieving quality results and obtaining victory for your car or truck accident lawsuit. Our attorneys carry over 100+ years of collective legal experience and have represented thousands of clients. We’ve also acquired millions of dollars in compensation on their behalf.

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Florida Personal Injury Lawyers with Best Results

A car accident can be scary and frustrating. When you experience a personal injury accident, the last thing you need on your plate is a law firm that can’t rightfully represent you. If your attorney’s firm is too small and consequently, it is getting pushed around, it’s time to reconsider your choice of legal representation. On the other hand, you do not want to have a fully loaded firm that is too busy to give you a call. The trial attorney’s at Trial Pro, P.A. carry credibility and reputation. We don’t ignore our clients or skip phone calls. Neither are we controlled by insurance companies.
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Take a moment to look at our Trial Pro, P.A. blog and read about issues related to car accidents, truck accidents, workers’ comp, insurance, slip-and-fall, trip-and-fall and more. Our attorneys not only strive to professionally represent their clients in litigation, but they are also strongly committed to educate them. At Trial Pro, P.A., we don’t withhold our personal injury knowledge. We are more than happy to share it with you.

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When you need expert legal counsel for your case, turn to the firm that has more than a century of collective legal experience and insight. At Trial Pro, P.A., we have put that experience to good use, advocating for thousands of clients over the years. In that time, our team has obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. As seasoned Florida personal injury lawyers and wage and hour attorneys, we know how to handle a comprehensive range of legal matters.

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Ever since 2001, the practice has held an exceedingly significant track record of successes. Every year, our reputable law firm is awarded for its impressive mark in the legal field. Trial Pro, P.A. has been recognized by Lawyers of Distinction, Florida Justice Association, Better Business Bureau (BBB) and more. Chief attorney Piercy Stakelum is a proud member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100, an invitation-only organization compromised of highly regarded and credible lawyers. Trial Pro, P.A. has also been acknowledged by Super Lawyers. They recognize outstanding lawyers who have acquired exceptional professional achievement.

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ATTORNEYS PROUDLY SERVING THE INJURED AND THEIR FAMILIES

Trial Pro, P.A. is a proud advocate for personal injury clients throughout the State of Florida. The DNA and foundation of our law firm is passion. While we are passionate about the law, we are even more zealous about fighting for those who have been hurt due to the negligence of others. Our trial attorneys fully embrace authenticity and integrity. With over 100+ years of collective legal experience, our reputable law firm has become a trusted choice for injured individuals. Trial Pro, P.A. has a remarkable reputation for winning. After experiencing a car accident, the last thing you desire is to have an attorney that doesn't know how to adequately represent you. You want a trustworthy and reliable law firm that will walk you through every step of your case. You want a group of attorneys that will pursue justice on your behalf and acquire the maximum compensation. At Trial Pro, P.A., we don't see you as just another case number on our list. We don't turn our backs on you half-way throughout the process. Our former clients can testify that they've truly experienced the Trial Pro, P.A. difference. Quite frankly, most of them have pursued our representation because of others that have recommended us. There are a handful of characteristics that distinguish us from other lawyers but our credibility is the best one amongst all.

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We put into action our knowledge and legal abilities to assist you, not only to attain a positive outcome, but ease the legal stress from your shoulders simultaneously. Trial Pro, P.A. holds a reputation for achieving real success for clients. Leave it to us to fight wisely but aggressively.

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Expering a car accident can be frustrating and scary but our promises to you are fully authentic. Trial Pro, P.A.'s personal injury legal attorneys do not under-deliver. Instead, we do everything in our capabilities to go above and beyond your expectations.

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You shouldn't have to beg for a call back from your attorney. You shouldn't have to beg for an update on your case. At Trial Pro, P.A., we don't operate in that manner. We constantly call our clients to give them updates on their claim. If we miss a call, we promise to always return it.

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Our objective is to enable our clients to relax and concentrate on healing, recognizing that the legal professionals at Trial Pro, P.A. holds the knowledge and resources to adequately tackle all the legal and financial specifics associated with their dispute.