How Impairment Ratings Work
Some workers’ compensation injuries are deemed, by law, to be “permanent,” and some are not. If an injured worker has a permanent injury, he or she may be entitled to receive a permanent impairment rating, which is worth money, in the form of permanent disability benefits. Impairment ratings are usually determined by a doctor (mostly by the treating physician, but not always), who uses a book that is filled with complicated tables, graphs and charts. Sometimes, doctors simply get the impairment rating wrong. Many times, insurance companies will try to get out of paying the impairment rating by alleging that it’s not valid, either in whole, or in part. Sometimes the insurance company will write an injured worker who has a permanent impairment and explain the impairment rating incorrectly; misstate the law; miscalculate the benefits owed; and/or advise that it is only paying some or none of the impairment rating. One reason insurance companies do this is because they know most injured folks have no idea about how impairment ratings work, and no idea how to correctly value them.
Having a permanent impairment rating can be very important to a claim, because it potentially opens the door for an injured worker to receive some of the most valuable benefits allowed under our workers’ compensation law. If there is no impairment rating or if the impairment rating is deemed to be invalid, these benefits may not be available. If you already have an impairment rating; think you may get one in the future; or think you may deserve one, we’d be glad to visit with you, about ratings and your rights, anytime.
By: Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law