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Total vs. Partial Disability

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What Is Partial Disability?

Partial disability is defined as any type of disability in which the workers is unable to perform at full physical capacity. This is usually due to an on the job injury or due to illness. 

Disability benefits may sometimes be paid to the worker if they suffer “loss of the use of a part of the body” due to the work-related injury. In an employment law context “loss” usually means an inability to use the body part in the same way as before the injury occurred.

What Is Total Disability?

A total disability is one where the employee is prevented from performing any work at all on account of the injury or condition. This is generally defined as the loss of the use of both legs, arms, hands, or eyes, or any two such parts like a leg and arm. Total disability can also involve impairment due to a serious occupational disease. 

What Is the Difference between Total vs. Partial Disability?

In terms of collecting disability payments or damages awards, there can be significant differences between total vs. partial disability. For partial disability, the legal remedies usually include compensation for lost wages due to the injury. However, it sometimes results in lower pay rates for the worker, as they may still be able to work, but are not able to perform the same types of tasks as before.

In contrast, total disability can also result in compensation for lost wages. However, it can also result in additional damages for issues like loss of future earnings or lost earning capacity. Since the worker generally can’t perform any work, they may be entitled to these types of damages as well. In serious cases, loss of future earnings can also be claimed for a partial disability. 

What Is “Permanent Disability”?

In order to collect a disability paycheck, the disability usually has to be “permanent.” This means that the disability or injury is lasting and permanent, rather than a temporary condition. For instance, the loss of use of a limb needs to be permanent in nature, and not a simple strain or sprain. 

You should note that both total and partial disabilities can be permanent. That is, a worker can sustain either “permanent total disability” or “permanent partial disability”. 

What If I Have a Claim for Total or Partial Disability?

Legal remedies for total or partial disability usually include worker’s compensation pay or disability pay by the employer. In especially egregious cases, the injured party may sue an employer for additional damages in a private civil lawsuit. These can cover other losses like loss of consortium or pain and suffering.

If you have a disability claim, you should compile any documents, receipts, or statements that might be related to your injury and your losses. This will include things like hospital reports, pharmacy bills, pay stubs, photos and video of your injuries, and personal accounts of the incident. These will be useful as evidence during formal court proceedings.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Total or Partial Disability Claims?

Disability law is a somewhat complex area of law. If you need assistance with a disability claim, or if you have any legal questions, you may wish to contact a qualified employment attorney in your area. Your lawyer can assist you in filing a claim and can help ensure that you receive the appropriate remedy for your losses.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 08-13-2018 08:59 PM PDT

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