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Understanding a Permanent Impairment Rating

December 19, 2015

To recap, a workers’ compensation claim allows employees to collect benefits from their employer for on-the-job injuries. This includes medical treatment costs and paychecks from the employer during an employee’s time of absence. Though many accidents luckily lead to nothing more but cuts, broken bones or a short time away from work, sometimes injuries turn into permanent life changes.

Permanently injured workers are entitled to disability benefits under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law. A defined list of covered body parts can be found under North Carolina’s Statute § 97-31. In order to decide on an exact settlement amount, the impairment rating must be assigned by a treating physician. Impairment ratings are given during the end of an employer’s healing period (when there is no further treatment available to improve the condition). The physician assesses the condition through a physical examination to determine the severity of the permanent impairment. No matter which part of the body is injured, the doctor performs a series of tests towards the injury to decide on the impairment level. Based on the examination results, the physician assigns a rating that represents the impairment percentage of the injured body part. Keep in a mind it is the employee’s choice to get a second opinion if the rating seems unsatisfactory.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission must approve the permanent impairment disability in order for an employee to receive payment. A lump sum is the most common type of settlement, but some cases are paid out weekly for a specified amount of weeks.

It’s important to remember that permanent disability claims are only made near the end of a workers’ compensation claim. This is when a worker has reached maximum medical improvement and permanent disability is evaluated.

If you’ve been injured on-the-job and been seeking medical treatment, but know that your condition is not getting better; it’s time to look into receiving a injury rating from your doctor. If you have questions about the rating process, concerns regarding the rating given to you or need help with your worker’s compensation claim, we can help. Injuries, whether sever or not, need to be taken seriously by you and your employer. Our attorneys are ready to help you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us to get started on your case today.