Understanding Your Impairment Rating in Virginia & Impairment Rating Payout
If you’ve had a work-related injury that resulted in a permanent impairment, your impairment rating will factor into the calculation of your worker’s compensation. What is an impairment rating, and how does it affect your worker’s comp benefits? Here’s an overview of how it works.
What is an impairment rating?
An impairment rating is a number given by an independent physician to indicate the percentage of permanent loss of use of a certain body part. This rating is applicable only when you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) after your work accident, and the doctor determines you have a permanent partial disability (PPD).
Your impairment rating signifies how much impairment your body part will sustain permanently. This will then help determine how much compensation you may receive.
Note that you don’t have to be disabled to be considered impaired. Based on the definition by the American Medical Association, impairment is the significant loss, deviation, or loss of use of a body part due to a health condition. For instance, significant scarring may not disable you from working, but it is a deviation that can qualify as an impairment.
How does my impairment rating affect my work comp payout? How much is an impairment rating worth?
This is the formula for calculating your PPD benefits in Virginia:
66 ⅔% of your average weekly wage times the number of weeks of compensation (specified in the Virginia workers’ comp schedule) times your impairment rating.
Let’s say you permanently lost your small toe in a workplace accident, for which the doctor gave an impairment rating of 0.05 (or 5%). Pre-injury, your average weekly wage was $1,200, and 66 ⅔% of that is $800. According to the Virginia workers’ comp schedule, the compensation period for that injury is 10 weeks. Multiplying these three factors together, you get:
$800 x 0.05 x 10 = $400.
You may claim your benefits as a weekly payout or a lump sum amount. Work with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to determine your best option.
How do I get an impairment rating?
You can only get an impairment rating once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point after your injury where your condition can no longer improve from further treatments. With your treating physician and attorney, you’ll need to show the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission that you’ve reached MMI and that you now have a permanent partial disability that warrants an impairment rating.
The main standard for impairment ratings is the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Your treating physician may be able to give you an impairment rating based on these guides, or your lawyer may refer you to an independent doctor who has undergone AMA training. Additionally, your employer and their insurance company may ask you to get a rating from a doctor they’ve selected.
If you have multiple impairment ratings, the Commission has discretion to either choose one of them or get the average of all your ratings.
How can a lawyer help me with my impairment rating?
Your impairment rating is the one variable in the computation of your PPD benefits. The other two factors in the calculation – your average weekly wage and your compensation period – are fixed. Thus, it’s crucial for you to get an impairment rating that truly represents the impact of your injury.
Having an attorney is indispensable in getting a proper impairment rating and protecting it from insurers who may try to reduce this number. Your lawyer should be able to refer you to reliable physicians and advocate for you when an insurance company presents conflicting evidence.
Talk to Jaleh K. Slominski – Virginia Workers’ Comp Lawyer
In the last 20+ years, Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski has earned the trust of Virginia employees for her tenacious handling of workers’ comp claims. With her network of medical professionals, she makes sure her clients get thorough medical assessments and impairment ratings. She negotiates skillfully with insurance companies to obtain favorable settlements for her clients.
Talk to Attorney Slominski about impairment rating concerns or any help you need with your workman’s comp claim. Contact us at (434) 384-9400 in (Lynchburg) or (540) 554-3762 in (Roanoke).