What is an Injury Rating?
What happens if you have a permanent injury after an on-the-job accident?
Does it mean you can’t do your job or work at all?
Will a permanent injury affect your claim and the possibility of getting a full and fair settlement in the future?
What is a Disability Rating?
"Work Comp cases can be pretty technical. We think it makes sense to have a lawyer standing by your side, guiding you through the process from start to finish."
- Kevin Jones, NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Under the Chapter 97 of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act or the “Act,” wage losses due to a workplace injury may be compensable.
The Act was put into place to help eliminate litigation over negligence.
A key element of the Comp laws in North Carolina is to protect and provide for the injured employee, whether it’s a temporary problem or long-term, permanent issue.
Disability benefits include things like Permanent Partial Disability, Total Disability, and Temporary Partial Disability.
Each type of “disability” may involve a “rating” as determined by review of your medical records and after consultation with medical professionals.
Employees who have suffered a permanent or disfiguring injury may be entitled to benefits from that disability.Things You Need to Know About Comp Cases in NC
That’s true whether or not you lost wages.
There is an aspect of full and fair compensation for injuries that takes into consideration loss of limb, disfigurement, and the permanent change to your body condition.
Indeed, under N.C.G.S. § 97-31 you may be entitled to compensation for a Permanent Partial Disability for the loss of or permanent injury to a body part.
That may be in addition to a claim for lost wages associated with non-employment during a period of recovery after the workplace incident.
After reaching MMI or Maximum Medical Improvement, your treating physician may assign something call as Disability Rating to the injured body part or body parts.
That Disability Rating may rely on information provided by the NC Industrial Commission Rating Guide.
The percentage of Permanent Impairment reflects the nature, extent, and severity (or loss) to the body-part affected.
Reasonable medical minds may differ in opinion.
As such, employees are entitled under the law to a second opinion of the assigned Disability Rating.
That second opinion is made by a doctor chosen by the employee.
Furthermore, the employer is responsible for the costs associated with obtaining a second opinion.How is the Permanent Partial Disability Rating Calculated?
There are three factors used to determine the rating payment associated with a Permanent Partial Disability:
- The Injured Employee’s Compensation Rate
- The Rating Guide “rating” determined by the doctor
- The weeks assigned for the injured body part(s) under § 97-31
As an example, an employee with a leg injury, resulting in loss of a leg, could receive a rating such that there is a 66.66% Disability Rating, for 200 weeks.
If the employee’s compensation (Average Weekly Wage – AWW) is $425 a week, the employee may be entitled to $56,661.
The Schedule of injuries, Period of Compensation and Rate as set forth in the Workers’ Compensation Act in § 97-31 also includes things like loss of fingers (thumb, first, second, third, etc. fingers), loss of toes, loss of hand, arm, foot, and the like.
Partial loss of hearing and the loss of vision in an eye are also subject to disability payments for total loss.
In certain circumstances, claims may be made for permanent disfigurement and scarring.
Employees are also entitled to compensation for injuries sustained to important internal organs such as your lungs and heart.Who Approves Benefits for Permanent Partial Disability?
There is an approval process for payment of disability benefits under the Act.
That is handled (approved) by the NC Industrial Commission.
The Employer fills out a Form 26 “Admission” of your right to a Permanent Partial Disability.
While not required, PPD benefits are often paid out in a lump sum.
In certain circumstances, disability payments may be also done so on a weekly basis for a pre-determined number of weeks.
Payment of a PPD rating stops any and all other ongoing payments for disability, including Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) and Temporary Total Disability (TTD).
That does not necessarily mean there has been full and final settlement with the employer for the workplace injury.
Furthermore, payment of the PPD also does not end medical benefits.
Payment of the Permanent Partial Disability does affect the ability to make further claims for something called Change of Condition.
That is set forth under the Act in N.C.G.S. § 97-47.
Failure to file notice of a Change in Condition to the injured body part(s) within the appropriate time period, you may lose your rights to additional benefits and wage replacements.
That time period is two (2) years from the date of receiving payment on the “rating.”
Changes of condition require documentation of a substantial worsening of the condition/injury.NC Workers Compensation Lawyer – Kevin Jones
Comp cases in North Carolina can get pretty complicated.
For example, choosing the best “remedy” for your disability deserves careful consideration you and your individual needs.
Payment for an injury rating may seem like a good idea until you realize there may be a better, more appropriate disability option that takes into consideration your unique situation.
"We approach each comp case and client as being unique. While there are similarities in on-the-job injuries, we focus on what is best for you and your family."
- Kevin Jones, Work Comp Lawyer New Bern NC
If you have questions about whether you should accept payment for a disability rating, please call or email Kevin Jones.
We provide a free consultation for Workman's Compensation cases in North Carolina.
You will not be pressured to retain the firm.
Our goal is to provide helpful information, guiding you in making decisions that best serve you and your interests
Consultations with the Dodge Jones law firm are also confidential.
We won’t discuss your matter with anyone, including your employer.
We understand the sensitive nature of such claims and clients’ concerns about future employment.