Being injured at work is an immensely stressful event that often leaves the person with the injury feeling like things are crumbling around them. You hope that you can recover and get back to work. Unfortunately, some injuries don’t improve with treatment.
You might lose a body part or be left with weakness or reduced function. In this scenario, your doctor will assign you a permanent impairment rating. This rating is used to calculate your workers’ compensation settlement in North Carolina.
If all of this sounds complicated, don’t worry. We have created a workers comp settlement chart to help explain how much compensation you can expect for loss or impairment of different body parts.
If you have suffered a serious work injury or are being pressured to return to your job before you’re ready, contact Waple & Houk Law today. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can help ensure you get the maximum payout possible for your injury.
What Is a Permanent Impairment Rating?
Your doctor will decide when your injury has healed as much as it is going to. This is known as “maximum medical improvement” or MMI in workers’ compensation jargon.
MMI doesn’t always mean that you’re back to normal. You might still have deformity, pain, weakness, or loss of function that hasn’t improved with treatment. In that case, your doctor may assign you a permanent impairment rating.
This rating is meant to reflect the percentage of change from your pre-injury condition. If you disagree with the doctor’s rating, you are entitled to get a second opinion from another doctor of your choosing. The Industrial Commission will average the two ratings to determine your benefits.
Often insurance companies send injured workers to doctors that they prefer. Over the years, we’ve heard from many clients whose doctors cleared them to return to work before they felt ready.
Contact Waple & Houk Law today if you disagree with the doctor’s decision that you’re ready to return to work. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers may be able to help you get a second opinion from a doctor that you choose.
Workers Comp Settlement Chart for Loss of Body Parts
Putting a price on different body parts sounds macabre. Most of our clients are shocked to learn that North Carolina state law sets a maximum amount of compensation for each body part.
The following impairment rating chart shows the workers’ comp benefits you can expect for the amputation or total loss of use of different body parts. The value of your payout is two-thirds of your average weekly wage times the number of weeks for that body part.
Permanent Partial Impairment Rating Chart
Suppose you don’t lose a body part, but you are left with limited function. For anything short of a total loss, benefits are calculated based on a percentage.
For example, a 10% partial impairment rating to the eye is worth 12 weeks of benefits at your weekly compensation rate. A 10% rating to your hand is worth 20 weeks of benefits at your weekly compensation rate.
Complications can arise given the many possible injuries that can affect the body parts listed. The North Carolina Industrial Commission offers impairment rating guidelines to help physicians make impairment evaluations for the following conditions:
- Shortening of the leg
- Rotation of the hip
- Motion of the knee, foot, and ankle
- Optimum position of the fingers, elbow, and shoulder
- Nerve injuries
- Back injuries
- And more
Choices for Disability Benefits
If you’re left with a permanent impairment to one of the body parts listed in our workers comp settlement chart, you’re entitled to the corresponding benefits even if you’re able to earn the same wages as before.
As part of a settlement of your workers’ comp case in North Carolina, you can choose to receive these permanent disability benefits in a lump sum rather than in weekly payments.
However, if you can’t earn as much after a permanent partial impairment rating, you may choose to continue receiving temporary partial disability benefits. These TPD benefits are based on the difference between your pre-injury wage and current earning capacity. Except under special circumstances, you can only receive weekly benefits for a total of 500 weeks from the date you became disabled.
If you have not returned to work at your pre-injury wage or are likely to need significant medical treatment in the future, choosing payment of an impairment rating over TPD benefits may be a mistake.
It’s best to consult an experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer when weighing your options. Our team at Waple & Houk Law for a free case evaluation today. We can help you maximize your workers’ compensation payout.
Have Your NC Workers’ Comp Case Evaluated for Free!
Many injured workers are contacted by an adjuster for their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company encouraging them to accept a workers’ comp settlement based on their impairment rating. Deciding whether you should accept a workers’ comp impairment rating is a big decision and it’s normal to have questions.
Our experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers can help you make the right decision at each stage of the process.
Lou Waple, at Waple & Houk, has spent over 20 years fighting for the rights of injury victims across the state of North Carolina, obtaining hundreds of positive outcomes for his clients.
Contact us online or call (704) 480-3899 to schedule your free initial case evaluation today! We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.