In workers’ compensation claims, impairment ratings are used to measure a work injury’s severity. The impairment rating will ultimately help determine how much compensation a work injury victim is eligible to recover.
In workers’ compensation cases, impairments are defined as either:
Medical professionals will determine if a patient has an impairment through proper testing and diagnostics procedures. Next, they will assign an impairment rating.
If injury victims display any inability to function the way they could before sustaining an injury, their doctor will likely assign a specific impairment rating, per the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Doctors may also examine the patient’s medical history to gauge how an injury impacted his or her ability to function when assigning an impairment rating.
To help gauge functionality and the degree of impairment, medical professionals often look at activities of daily living (ADL), which include physical activity, communication, hygiene, sexual activity, sleep, and sensory function. Medical professionals will assess how an impairment impacts a worker’s ability to perform normal job functions. A severe physical impairment could have a bigger impact on a worker’s ability to perform tasks in the trades, while other sedentary jobs may not require as much physical labor.
Once an injury victim has recovered as much as he or she can after the work accident, his or her doctor will report the assigned impairment rating to the workers’ comp insurance company. If the impairment rating indicates a permanent impairment, victims may be eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits. However, the insurer will ultimately be the party responsible for determining how much compensation the victim will receive.
If a victim disagrees with the assigned impairment rating, he or she may request an independent medical exam with another doctor.
Impairment ratings help determine how much compensation workers can recover in workers’ comp cases. If a victim disagrees with an initial impairment rating, it’s not necessarily final.
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm’s areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.