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How Does Impairment Affect Your Workers Compensation?

For the vast majority of Americans, the only way that you are going to receive a steady income on which to live by is if you get a job and work. But if you sustain a serious injury, you won’t be able to work while you are being treated and recover, which means you may lose your salary for that period. If you sustain an injury that is so serious it permanently affects you, you may not be able to return to your old job in your previous capacity and resume your old life.

In instances where this type of injury is sustained because of the negligence or carelessness of someone else at the workplace, workers compensation is here to assist. As the name implies, it’s a form of financial assistance that helps to provide money to allow the continuance of food, shelter, and clothing that all require money which is no longer coming from an earned salary.

However, workers compensation is not something that is automatically given to employees. Sometimes you need the help of a workers comp lawyer to secure the compensation you deserve. And other times, even when you do get it, it may not be exactly what you imagined. The impairment rating is one of those factors few people know about that has a direct impact on just how workers comp pans out for you. So let’s take a look at it now.

Meeting The Requirements

The most important thing to remember before even considering getting workers comp for an injury is that you must not be at fault for the injury. If you were playing with a welding torch, held it near your face and turned it on without a welding helmet, blinding yourself, you could not seek workers compensation in such a case. On the other hand, if you were just doing your own job, without eye protection, and someone else held up a welding torch to your face and caused you eye damage turning on the torch where you could see it, that is definitely a case of negligence, and you would have every right to seek workers compensation.

Carelessness, negligence or any other dereliction of legal duty and professionalism that cause you harm are the base requirements to qualify for workers compensation. If there’s some argument as to whether you should be awarded this compensation, you can look for a professional workers’ compensation attorney to assess your situation and see if a court case can award you what you’re owed.

But once you are actually awarded workers’ compensation, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is your “happy ending” and that everything will be fine from now on. While it’s true that workers’ compensation is designed to provide some financial help, this is neither complete, nor is it permanent. And how the amounts are determined may surprise you.

Your Impairment Rating

If you sustain an injury that is permanent, then you will be classified as impaired. Simply put, it is acknowledged that you will never be medically restored to 100% “functionality” as you were before. This might be because of limb loss, major organ injury, such as to the ear or eye, or some other form debilitation that you must now live with.
At some point, you will reach a stage your recovery process known as maximum medical improvement. This is the “cut-off point” where workers comp for your treatment will cease, because you have recovered as much as is possible in your condition. When maximum medical improvement has been reached, a medical professional will evaluate you, and assign you an impairment rating.

The impairment rating is based on the type of injury you have and compared to an index for the “rating schedule” of injuries here in the state of Florida. Whatever type of injury you have sustained will be compared against that existing schedule and you will have your percentage assigned to it.

So, if for example, you sustained a permanent back injury that has now limited your ability to move, a doctor evaluating you may assign you an impairment rating of 6%. So what does that mean?

Impairment rating determines how many weeks of workers comp you are entitled to before the payments stop. 1%-10% is two weeks’ worth per percentage point, whereas an impairment rating of 21% or more is equivalent to six weeks of compensation per percentage point.

In this case, if you have a 6% rating, this means you will get 12 weeks of compensation and then it will end. If this sounds like a point of concern for you, then it’s good you’re finding out about this now!

Workers’ compensation is a very complex legal tangle, and quite often it does not play out or interpret the in the common sense ways you’d expect. If you want to find out more about how it works, talk to a qualified workers comp lawyer.