What If I Don’t Agree with a Workers’ Comp Doctor’s Impairment Rating?
If you are currently receiving workers’ compensation benefits after a work-related injury and your doctor assigns an impairment rating you do not agree with, it is important to be represented by an attorney and get a second opinion.
Below, we discuss what you can do if you disagree with the doctor’s impairment rating. The information provided below should not be misconstrued as legal advice. Contact our Tampa workers’ compensation attorney at Kobal Law to discuss your particular case.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
If a workers’ compensation authorized doctor says that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), it does not necessarily mean that you have fully recovered from your injury.
MMI means that your medical condition has improved to the point that further medical treatment is no longer necessary or when further lasting improvement “can no longer reasonably be anticipated,” according to Section 440.02, Florida Statutes. However, a worker who reached maximum medical improvement may still deal with certain symptoms.
Once you reach MMI, you will be required to pay a $10 copayment per visit for medical treatment. Also, your temporary wage benefits will be discontinued after you reach maximum medical improvement regardless of whether or not you can return to work.
After reaching MMI, the doctor will assign you an impairment rating that determines your eligibility for impairment income benefits.
What is a permanent impairment rating?
The permanent impairment rating is a percentage that reflects the worker’s degree of permanent loss of function as a result of the work-related injury.
In 1996, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation developed the Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Schedule, which provides guidelines for calculating permanent impairment ratings in workers’ compensation cases.
During an examination, a doctor will perform various tests on the worker’s injured body parts to evaluate the degree of permanent loss of function. For example, if you sustained a back injury, the doctor will look at the range of motion and how long you can sit, stand, walk, or perform other basic activities before you start feeling discomfort or pain.
Permanent impairment ratings can be incorrect
In 2017, the Florida Bar Journal published an article revealing how doctors assign incorrect permanent impairment ratings to injured workers. It is not uncommon for workers’ compensation doctors to give impairment ratings without performing all the necessary tests to evaluate the loss of function accurately.
When an injured worker disagrees with the doctor’s impairment rating and attempts to confront them, they may hear something along the lines of “because I said so.” Doctors take advantage of the fact that they have a medical degree to win arguments with injured workers who disagree with their evaluation.
Unfortunately, a doctor may not apply all of the guidelines properly when assigning a permanent impairment rating. For this reason, if you do not agree with the impairment rating assigned by your doctor, contact a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer right away.
Our attorneys at Kobal Law will ensure that you get an accurate permanent impairment rating to help you fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. Call at 813-873-2440 to schedule a consultation.