If you are injured on the job in Georgia, you may be assigned an impairment rating. This rating is used in determining the number of weeks you will receive benefits through your workers’ compensation claim. Because it has a direct impact on your compensation amount, you should seek the advice of a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney.
How Does an Impairment Rating Work in Georgia?
In the majority of the cases, your doctor will assign an impairment rating to the part of your body that was injured in your Georgia on-the-job injury using the American Medical Association’s Guide to Permanent Impairments, 5th Edition and your settlement negotiations will begin from that point.
There are numerous issues involved that make your rating a bit more complicated. Most doctors rely upon a variety of guides when making their workers’ compensation diagnoses, including a few different editions of the American Medical Association guide. It depends on which guide your doctor chooses to use that can affect what impairment rating your given.
How Does My Impairment Rating Work in Georgia?
In Georgia, the state’s workers’ compensation program was designed to assist you and other workers with injuries they’ve suffered on the job. If your injury is a minor one, and you miss no work or only a couple of days of work, you will be eligible for medical care, but nothing else.
If you are put on “no work” status for 7 or more days or placed on light duty and your employer cannot accommodate your work restrictions, you will receive temporary total disability benefits and medical care.
If your job-related injury leaves you permanently impaired, your doctor will assign you a permanent partial disability rating which is representative of the loss you have of the body part and your body as a whole based upon the American Medical Association Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition.
How Are Impairment Ratings Calculated in Georgia?
In Georgia, your impairment rating will be calculated using all the information regarding your injury and the impact your work-related injury has had on your life. Impairment ratings are only assigned when your medical condition is considered to be stable and not likely to change, even if you have additional medical treatment.
Your medical records, including your past medical history will be analyzed and may include test results, examinations, and other medical information. You will also be examined and observed by a doctor.
Your impairment rating will then be used when deciding how long you will be able to receive Georgia workers’ compensation benefits.
What Are the American Medical Association Guidelines When Evaluating My Permanent Impairment in Georgia?
The best way to explain it is by example. Assume that you’ve injured your lower back in a job-related incident, you have surgery that gets rid of the pain, but leaves you with a reduced capacity to lift, twist, or bend. In that case, your doctor may come to the conclusion that you have reached your maximum improvement medically, and that you have a 20% permanent partial disability to your body.
What this means is that based on the American Medical Association’s guidelines, you have lost 20% of your function and that it’s not likely you will improve in the next year.
Keep in mind, that the American Medical Association Guidelines are an attempt to standardize all disability evaluations, and your particular situation could leave you with a higher degree of limitation than what the guidelines dictate.
Is My Permanent Partial Disability Rating is Correct?
The rating given to you by your doctor is based upon various criteria, such as the type of injury you have, and how well your injury has responded to treatment. Keep in mind that not every doctor is going to use the American Medical Association Guidelines, and this could have a negative impact on you.
Whether you have reached your maximum medical improvement or if your rating is accurate, depends upon the doctor who is doing your evaluation. If your doctor is from your employer’s posted panel of approved doctors, there’s a chance that the doctor may be a bit biased toward your employer’s insurance company.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t assume that the Georgia workers’ compensation insurance company will act in a reasonable and fair manner.
What if My Permanent Partial Disability Rating is Too Low?
If your rating is too low, the settlement value of your case is reduced. Under Georgia law, there’s a set number of weeks assigned to various injuries. It’s important to consult one of the Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at The Gearhart Law Group to find out if your rating is too low and what next steps may be possible in your individual case.
If you were injured while on the job, you have rights that are guaranteed by Georgia law. In order to help you understand your rights, and receive the compensation you may be eligible for, you need to contact the worker’s compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group. We are there to assist you, and ensure you receive all the monetary compensation you deserve.
Learn more about how benefits are calculated here.