Proving Permanent Injury

Published on June 5th, 2019

Proving Permanent Injury Thurswell LawPerhaps you have been in an accident and suffered a permanent injury. What is a permanent injury? It is generally considered to be ongoing physical or mental damage. It will not disappear; instead, it will limit a person’s work and other activities for the rest of his or her life.

In a lawsuit involving the negligence or wrongful act of another, a permanent injury can be an important element in the determination of damages. If you can establish that the injury you suffered because of someone’s negligence has left a permanent effect, referred to as a “residual injury,” the amount of your damages award can increase significantly.

Under Michigan law, the injured person can only receive non-economic compensation if the victim has suffered “death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.“ These are known as “threshold injuries.” Unless you have a threshold injury, according to Michigan law, you cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering. The Michigan Supreme Court case of McCormick v. Carrier sets forth the specific requirements for serious impairment of body function, basically defining it as “an objectively manifested impairment of an important body function that affects the person’s general ability to lead a normal life.

Therefore, judges, juries, and insurance companies look at many different things to determine whether an injured person has suffered a serious impairment of body function. These may include loss of work, recreational activities, household duties, and future limitations the injured person will have in the future.

How to prove a permanent injury

Maximum Medical Improvement

After you have recovered from your injury as much as possible, your doctor will decide when you have reached maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement means that your condition has stabilized and no additional treatment is expected to materially improve your condition. When you have reached maximum medical improvement, if you are not completely healed, your injury is considered a permanent impairment and you should be entitled to compensation for your loss.

Your doctor will determine your permanent impairment rating, using the American Medical Association (AMA) Guide of the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. You may be considered permanently or partially disabled. Other experts may testify about the effects of your impairment, such as your earning capacity. Other mortality tables may be used to help determine your impairment rating. The mortality tables provide information about the statistical likelihood of, for example, the probability of a particular injury, the severity of restrictions, or the person’s life expectancy.

Document Your Residual Injury in Your Medical Records

Ask your doctor to include the possibility of some permanent or residual effects of the injury in your medical records. You should include this information in your claim for damages.

Independent Medical Examination

Insurance companies frequently require you to undergo an independent medical examination to substantiate your injuries. Before you allow such an examination, you should speak with your personal injury lawyer about what to expect and your rights during this process.

Common Residual or Permanent Injuries

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Back or joint injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis. Paralysis can be complete or partial. It can affect one side of the body (hemiplegia) or both sides. Sometimes paralysis affects one area, or it may be widespread.
  • Injuries that result in the loss of a limb
  • Severe burn injuries
  • Scars and disfigurement. Scars from the injury or from subsequent medical treatment are a common residual injury. Visible scars, such as those not usually covered by clothing, are considered important. Some scarring, particularly in the joint or any other flexible area, may mean less flexibility. Even a slight loss of mobility justifies higher damages. The cost of having a scar removed or repaired may contribute to the damages.

Types of Michigan Personal Injury Compensation

If you have suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation, such as:

  • Medical bills for treatment related to your injuries
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement caused by the accident
  • Emotional distress caused by the accident
  • The repair or replacement of any damaged property
  • Lost wages for time off from work, including time spent on medical appointments
  • The expense of hiring someone to do all household chores you are unable to do
  • Any other costs you’ve incurred because of the accident

Permanent Injury in Other Areas of the Law

Although Social Security disability benefits and workers’ compensation are both important disability benefit programs, the two programs are different in many ways. Workers qualify for workers’ compensation benefits from their first day of employment, but workers must have a substantial work history to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Workers’ compensation covers disabilities arising out of employment. It provides benefits for both short-term and long-term disabilities and partial and total disabilities. Social Security disability benefits are paid only to workers whose continuing impairments prevent them from any gainful employment, regardless of whether the disability arose out of employment.

Social Security benefits are paid to workers who have a physical or mental impairment, expected to last at least a year or result in death. The impairment must be so severe that the worker is unable to do his or her previous job, and is also is unable to perform any other form of gainful work.

Worker’s compensation is the oldest social insurance program in the nation. The laws and administration of worker’s compensation programs vary from one state to another, particularly in the concept of permanent disability. Total and permanent disability is a special category of disability. Workers who meet specific requirements can get additional benefits.

Consult Your Michigan Personal Injury Attorney

Everyone’s accident case is different. However, suffering a permanent injury can alter your life in unexpected and sometimes catastrophic ways. Our experienced attorneys can review the circumstances of your case, discuss your options, and if necessary, fight for the best possible outcome for your particular case. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, contact Thurswell Law online or call (248) 354-2222.

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