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Does Permanent Work Restriction Increase the Settlement of a Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claim?


If you have permanent work restrictions due to a workplace injury in Virginia, you may be wondering how this impacts the potential settlement of your workers compensation claim. The short answer is that a permanent work restriction can increase the settlement value of a Virginia workers’ comp claim. In this general guide, we explain how this can happen.

For legal advice specific to your case, please don’t hesitate to talk to us at Slominski Law. We have over 30 years of experience helping injured workers in Lynchburg, Roanoke, and across Virginia. We’re eager to help you understand your rights and pursue fair compensation.

What are Permanent Work Restrictions?

Permanent work restrictions refer to limitations that are placed on an injured employee’s ability to perform certain job functions or duties. These restrictions are considered permanent when the treating physician determines that the individual has reached their maximum medical improvement (MMI). In other words, the employee is not expected to fully recover from or heal beyond this point.

Some examples of common permanent restrictions are:

  • Lifting limits (such as no lifting over 15 pounds)
  • Restricted hours (such as no working over 8 hour shifts)
  • Limited bending, squatting, or climbing
  • No driving vehicles or operating heavy machinery
  • Alternating sitting and standing.

Permanent restrictions are based on an assessment of the injury, the worker’s healing progress, their job duties, and any ongoing symptoms or impairments. The restrictions are intended to prevent the individual from further injuring themselves and causing additional damage.

Why Permanent Restrictions Increase Settlement Value

There are a few key reasons why permanent work restrictions tend to increase the potential value of a Virginia workers’ compensation settlement:

1. Lost Earning Capacity

One of the main factors that increases settlement value is the injured worker’s loss of earning capacity. This refers to their reduced ability to earn wages and benefits, compared to what they could prior to the injury.

Permanent restrictions often severely limit the types of jobs and duties an individual can perform. An injured laborer with a 10-pound lifting restriction, for example, may no longer be able to work in their chosen field. This translates into a significant loss of earning capacity. The more earning capacity is reduced by restrictions, the higher the settlement value tends to be.

2. Permanency Itself

Another reason permanent restrictions increase claim value is simply because “permanency” implies a lasting disability. There are Virginia workers’ comp guidelines that assign higher “disability ratings” for permanent injuries versus temporary ones. So all else being equal, a 5% leg disability with permanent restrictions will receive a higher settlement than 5% with only temporary restrictions.

3. Impact on Actual Post-Injury Earnings

For example, say a worker earns $60,000 per year pre-injury but only manages to earn $30,000 post-injury because their restrictions prevent them from working full-time. This sizable loss of actual earnings will factor into the settlement calculation and may increase the claim’s value.

4. Age and Life Expectancy

Another factor is the injured worker’s age and life expectancy. Permanent restrictions for a 25-year-old that may impact their earnings for 40 more years creates more value than restrictions for a 63-year-old nearing retirement. The younger the worker and longer the impact of reduced earning capacity, the higher settlements tend to be.

Overall, permanent restrictions make it clear the individual will never recover fully or earn to the same extent they could pre-injury. This lifetime loss of earnings and limited capacity rightfully translate into higher settlement values.

Key Factors That Determine Value of Restriction-Based Settlements

While permanent work restrictions certainly help increase Virginia workers’ comp settlements, there are other important factors that also determine value. These include:

  • Extent of medical treatment: More surgeries and invasive procedures increase value.
  • Type of permanent restrictions: Very limiting restrictions increase value more than moderate ones.
  • Impact on normal life activities: Restrictions that affect day-to-day function beyond just work duties increase value.
  • Pre-injury earning capacity: Higher earnings often equal greater potential lost earnings.
  • Age and life expectancy: As explained earlier, younger age and more remaining working years increase value.
  • Post-injury actual earnings: As discussed, lower actual earnings increase claim value.
  • Skill level: Loss of high-skill career has greater impact than loss of an unskilled job.
  • Disability rating: Higher disability ratings under Virginia guidelines increase claim value.

The exact value of any claim depends holistically on all these factors assessed by an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney.

Settlement Value Also Depends on Job Type

Additionally, it’s important to understand that the increase in claim value caused by permanent restrictions depends largely on the type of job and duties performed. For jobs with higher physical demands, restrictions have a greater impact on potential continued employment. Examples include:

  • Construction workers
  • Miners
  • Healthcare aides
  • Landscapers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Warehouse workers.

For these physically demanding roles, even relatively minor lifting or bending restrictions can significantly limit or prevent the employee’s return to work. This translates into larger financial losses and settlement values.

On the other hand, restrictions may have less impact on potential earnings for jobs with lower physical demands like:

  • Accountants
  • IT professionals
  • Administrative assistants
  • Teachers
  • Artists.

Workers in these types of roles can often continue working despite moderate restrictions. They may be able to go back to work on light duty. Their potential financial losses and settlement values tend to be lower compared to manual laborers.

Note, however, that regardless of your job type, there are ways to maximize your worker’s compensation. Our highly experienced workers’ comp lawyer at Slominski Law can assist you in pursuing a strategic claim. We’re deeply familiar with the guidelines and rules of the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission, and can navigate this system for the most ideal outcome.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help Maximize Worker’s Compensation Claims Value

As illustrated above, permanent work restrictions can certainly increase the potential value of a Virginia workers compensation claim. However, calculating restrictions-based settlement value can be extremely complex. This is where an experienced work injury attorney like Jaleh Slominski can help. Over 30+ years, Attorney Slominski has helped hundreds of Virginia workers get the maximum compensation they deserve after suffering permanent injuries and restrictions.

Unlike insurance company claims adjusters who aim to minimize value, Attorney Slominski will thoroughly investigate your claim and build the strongest case possible for full and fair settlement. She handles every aspect of the process for you so you can focus on your recovery.

If you or a loved one has suffered a permanent workplace injury in Virginia, contact Slominski Law today at (434) 384-9400 (Lynchburg office) or (540) 554-3762 ( Roanoke office). We provide a free consultation. We will evaluate your permanent restrictions and give you an honest assessment of what your claim could be worth. Let our decades of experience work for you.