Guide to South Carolina Workers’ Comp Impairment Ratings

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When you are seeking a workers’ compensation settlement, the impairment rating that you receive is crucial. It could determine how much money you get for your workers’ comp claim when you are disabled in the wake of your accident. It is essential to know what goes into this impairment rating, as well as the legal process and your options ahead.

You may not always agree with the impairment rating that you have been assigned. When you need legal help with your workers’ compensation claim, reach out to The Hartman Law Firm, LLC. Since you have tight deadlines in a work injury case, you can contact us today to speak to a qualified workers’ comp lawyer in Charleston.

What Is an Impairment Rating?

A critical point of your workers’ compensation claim is when you reach maximum medical improvement. This is defined as the point where further treatment will not result in a material Improvement in your condition.

At that point, your treating doctor would examine you and determine whether you can return to work and the extent of your disability. After a thorough examination, the doctor will give you an impairment rating.

You will receive a score on a scale of 0–100 to determine the extent of your disability. A score of zero means that you have no impairment. A score of 100 means that you have a full impairment.

Factors That Can Impact Your Impairment Rating

The impairment rating is supposed to reflect how disabled you are and your ability to work in the future.

The examination will rate both your overall situation and specific body parts that have been affected by your injuries.

The impairment rating you are assigned for your work-related injury considers several factors, including:

  • Whether you need or needed surgery for your injuries
  • Whether you have lost movement in the affected body parts
  • How much strength remains in the affected body parts
  • Whether you are in continuous pain
  • The severity of the injury

Impairment ratings are considered functional. In other words, they measure how much a specific body part can be used. Pain is not the only factor considered. The critical element is what you may be able to do physically going forward.

How Impairment Ratings Determine Your Workers’ Comp Case

To begin with an example, if your workers’ compensation claim resulted from bursitis in your shoulder, the examination would take an in-depth and detailed look at how much function remains in your shoulder. If you still have some function left, you may receive a rating of less than 100. However, if the bursitis is so severe that you can no longer use your shoulder, you should expect to receive a rating of 100.

The impairment rating will form the basis for your workers’ compensation settlement agreement.

South Carolina uses a complicated schedule that assigns a certain number of maximum weeks of benefits to injured body parts. For example, the loss of use of a shoulder corresponds to 300 weeks of benefits, and an injured thumb could result in 65 weeks of benefits.

Once you have your impairment rating, it will be multiplied by the full benefit that you can expect to receive. For example, if your workers’ compensation lost wages benefit was $1000 per week, and your impairment rating was 50, you would receive $500 a week in benefits. You would continue to receive reasonable and necessary medical care to treat your injury.

You Can Challenge an Impairment Rating

There is a chance you may not agree with the impairment rating that you were given. The doctor who examined you and assigned you the rating may be working more for the insurance company’s interest than for yours. After all, it is your employer who can select the doctor who provides you with workers’ compensation medical treatment.

The impairment rating is just a guide that is provided to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. They are the ones who ultimately determine your benefits. Thus, the rating given to you by the examining doctor is not binding.

However, you must speak up if you disagree because the SCWCC may simply adopt the impairment rating when determining your benefits. Numerous factors could be used to calculate your benefits, and impairment rating is just one of them.

You can challenge your impairment rating if you believe that it is wrong. First, your attorney will advise you to attend an examination with a different doctor to get another opinion. Then, you can appeal a worker’s compensation decision that you disagree with to the SCWCC. They may schedule a hearing where your attorney presents your side of the story and argues why you deserve a higher impairment rating or more benefits. In the meantime, you may negotiate a settlement with the insurance company where you meet somewhere in the middle. You can think of an impairment rating as a starting point for negotiations because you always can fight.

Why Hire The Hartman Law Firm, LLC?

Attorney Frank Hartman stands up for the rights of injured South Carolinians. He passionately believes that you can fight the system that is lined up against you.

Frank is a fixture in the local Charleston courts and he strives to provide excellent and responsive client service at every turn. He will not take no for an answer until you have exhausted every possible legal option.

If you have received any decision in connection with your workers’ compensation claim that you were unhappy with, you do not have to simply abide by it. You can contact an experienced and aggressive attorney to work on your behalf.

Contact a Charleston Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

To learn more about what happens after getting an impairment rating and other issues related to your workers’ compensation claim, reach out to The Hartman Law Firm, LLC today. We will patiently take the time to listen to you and explain your case and legal options. When you speak to Frank, you will know that he’s a passionate ally and fighter.

Learn more about working with him today. You can schedule a free initial consultation by sending us a message through our website or by calling us now at 843.300.7600.

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