This post discusses Disability Ratings in NC Workers’ Compensation cases. A rating is an integral part of any settlement discussion in workers’ compensation but what is it, who makes this rating and when does it happen?
What are Disability Ratings in NC Workers’ Compensation?
Your disability rating is a percentage loss in functionality of the injured body part. In simple terms, the rating represents how your injury has permanently affected your body. For example, if you broke your leg at work and it heals, there still may be some permanent loss of function to your leg. In addition, there may be scarring or other residuals that affect your ability to earn wages in the future. You can also read Types of NC Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits.
Who makes the rating and when?
Your treating physician will determine if you have any permanent disability after you have reached what is called “maximum medical improvement” or sometimes abbreviated as MMI. MMI occurs when you have finished all relevant medical treatment and further improvement is not expected.
North Carolina differs from many other states in that the disability ratings are statutory by body part. (see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-31). Your treating physician makes the determination as how much use you have after treatment has ended. The amount of the rating is left largely to the experience of the provider and can vary from one doctor to another based on experience with worker compensation cases, although the N.C. Industrial Commission Rating Guide is available.
Disability ratings in NC Worker’s Compensation also have special rules for amputation of toes and fingers, as well as for eyes, and for hearing loss. Compensation for scarring is limited and usually is only for serious scarring or dis-figuration to the face or head. Ratings for other body part scarring is discretionary based on how much interference the scarring causes with your ability to earn wages. There is limited compensation for injuries to muscles and internal organs as well and is largely at the discretion of the Industrial Commission.
Understanding disability ratings in NC workers’ compensation is complex, but with the help of a NC Workers’ Compensation attorney, you can better understand how your disability rating affects your claim. The Bishop Law Firm represents clients injured on the job in Raleigh, Cary, Durham and surrounding areas of North Carolina. We do not get paid unless we win, and we offer free case evaluations. Call us today, (919) 615-3095.