In Arkansas, some workers’ compensation injuries are considered, 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 that is worth money, in the form of permanent disability benefits. Impairment ratings are usually determined by a doctor (they can also be calculated by a Judge) who uses a book to do so that is filled with complicated tables, graphs, numbers, and charts.
Sometimes, doctors simply get the impairment rating wrong. Often, insurance companies will try to get out of paying an impairment rating, either in whole or in part, by alleging that the rating is invalid under Arkansas law or failing to request permanent impairment all together. Many times, an insurance adjuster will write an injured worker who has a permanent impairment and explain the rating incorrectly; misstate the law; miscalculate the benefits owed; and/or advise that the carrier is only paying some or even 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. Insurance adjusters also know that if there’s no impairment rating, the injured worker is going to have a very difficult time asking a Judge to award benefits for a loss of earning capacity; permanent total disability; and/or vocational retraining. These benefits can be very valuable.
If you already have a permanent impairment rating; are in the process of getting one; think you might have one; or think you may deserve one, we’d be glad to visit with you about ratings and your rights, any time.
By: Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law