Disability Rating and Workers’ Compensation
When someone is injured at work, they are assigned a disability rating, otherwise known as an impairment rating. This rating makes an enormous difference in the type and amount of compensation that you can receive from the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, and whether or not you are entitled to long-term benefits. However, navigating the workers’ compensation process can be difficult, especially on your own. Enlisting an attorney can be a great help.
After an on-the-job injury, the first step a person must take is to seek medical evaluation from a doctor that your employer will choose. That medical evaluation will determine your treatment and short-term benefits, for up to 260 weeks (the limit was formerly 104 weeks, but in 2016, the Florida Supreme Court raised the limit for some disabled workers). Your doctor will be looking for the point when your injuries do not continue to improve or heal, called maximum medical improvement (MMI) in workers’ compensation parlance.
Once you reach MMI, this is the time when your doctor will issue a disability rating or impairment rating – either that, or you will be assessed at the point where your short-term benefits are due to run out. The rationale is that if your injuries have healed as much as possible (or you will no longer have short-term benefits to fall back on), what remains must be assessed to determine whether you are able to work at all, and if you are, what type of work you can feasibly do.
Opinions May Be Split
Florida state law is quite specific about how much a person is entitled to in terms of benefits, depending on how many percentage points of permanent disability are assessed. For every percentage point under 10, Florida’s injured workers are entitled to two weeks’ worth of benefits. From 11 to 15 percent, three weeks’ worth of benefits are available; from 16 to 20 percent, four weeks’ worth; and for each percentage point over 21, you are entitled to six weeks’ worth of benefits. So, if you were ruled to be, say, 25 percent permanently disabled, you would be entitled to a cumulative total of 85 weeks’ worth of benefits.
While in theory, the process of obtaining a disability rating should not be difficult, it can get quite complex. Your doctor may not be inclined to give any permanent disability rating – if this is true in your case, the best option is to seek an independent medical exam. Alternatively, you may simply disagree with the doctor’s assessment and want to seek a second opinion, or have your attorney challenge the doctor’s findings. Since impairment ratings directly affect long-term benefits, it can cause you serious issues if your doctor is inclined to understate the extent of your disability.
Call An Orlando Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
If you have been injured on the job, and you believe you have sustained permanent disability, it is important that you understand your rights, so you can ensure that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to. The Orlando workers’ compensation lawyers at the Hornsby Law Group will work hard for you so that you and your family get what you deserve, letting you focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.