When you get hurt at work, sometimes you heal up from the injury quickly and there are no real impairments from it. This makes the worker’s compensation process rather easy. However, other injuries are not always so simple. For more serious injuries, you might be left with a certain amount of impairment and disability, but the level of impairment is not just based upon your word. There is a whole impairment rating system that will decide the seriousness of your injury and how much compensation is it worth.
Before getting into the impairment rating system, it is important to know two very important distinctions that will play a big part in the monetary worth of your injury.
- Permanent versus Temporary Impairment
- Partial versus Total Disability
Naturally permanent impairment gives injured workers the right to pursue both longer and larger benefits while total disability, even if temporary, can also result in more compensation. However, while impairment and disability are often used interchangeably, in terms of benefits they mean very different things. Disability refers to restrictions and limits on the ability to complete tasks while impairment refers to the injury affecting the physical condition of a person. While disability may mean that you can no longer do some tasks, an impairment speaks to the extent of an injury and will require an impairment rating.
Why an Impairment Rating is Necessary?
If you are injured, it is clear that an insurance company can see that you have a broken limb or had to have stitches. However, they cannot experience your level of pain or know how badly everything is broken under a cast, and that is exactly where impairment ratings come in.
After an injury and after filing for worker’s compensation, you will be asked to see a medical professional for an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). In this evaluation, the doctor will examine you and give you a number between 0 and 100 representative of how much your injury has impaired your physical ability. This is all so that your employer, your insurer, and even you can understand just how serious the injury is and how it will affect work. However, mostly it will deem if the worker’s compensation insurance system will continue to pay you benefits or will cut you off.
In most cases, the higher this rating is will mean the more compensation you get and how long you will receive this compensation since the higher the rating, the longer you will have to miss work or do a lighter duty job. However, it is important to keep in mind that a very high rating might mean you can never return to work as higher impairment rated injuries often result in some form of permanent disability. Even if you have a low impairment rating, providing it is higher than zero, you will still receive some compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. It just means you will be expected to return to work sooner.
If you have been hurt at work, an IRE and impairment rating is just one of many different hoops you will have to jump through to get coverage for your injury. The worker’s compensation system is a good safety net, but no one ever said it was easy. This is why it is best to have a lawyer by your side. In many cases, the system will try to get you to receive an IRE from one of their doctors, and occasionally they are picked because they tend to lean in their favor rather than give a neutral point of view. A good attorney can help you navigate around this to make sure you get fair results. If you need representation in the worker’s compensation process in Minnesota, contact us today