- August 29, 2022
- Sumwalt Anderson
- Workers’ Comp
Although many jobs are far safer today than they were even a few decades ago, nearly every job still has some risk of injury. Some jobs are far riskier than others, especially when it comes to the possibility of suffering a disabling or disfiguring injury that will permanently affect your life and leave you with impairment.
Workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina attempt to protect workers and employers when someone suffers an injury at the jobsite by providing specific benefits to injured employees, while protecting the employer from the risk of a lawsuit. Among those specific benefits are permanent partial disability benefits. When you as the employee have a disabling injury, you may qualify to receive a workers’ comp settlement for a rating, based on which part of your body suffered the devastating injury. If you lose a finger or lose use of your left arm in the accident at work, the state’s workers’ comp laws assign values to various body parts which determines what kind of payment you could receive.
Sumwalt Anderson Will Work Toward Helping You Secure the Award You Should Have
Although the workers’ compensation body parts values would make it seem like obtaining the payment you deserve should be straightforward, it’s not always easy to apply the body part values to real life. Sometimes, you level of injury or the amount of functional loss you have suffered may not be appropriately factored into the assignment of your rating by your authorized treating physician. Additionally, completing all the forms and paperwork can be overwhelming for the injured worker, which may lead to unintended errors.
At Sumwalt Anderson, our workers’ comp lawyers spend extensive time dealing with workers’ compensation claims on behalf of our clients. We will always try to make the process run as smoothly as possible for you, so you can focus on spending time with your family and on your recovery from work-related injuries.
For a free consultation about your case involving a workers’ comp settlement and to learn about disability ratings in a North Carolina workers’ comp claim, contact us today at 206-741-1051.
Understanding the Level of Disability in the Ratings Guide
The North Carolina legislature has assigned values to various body parts to help clarify how much body parts are worth in workers’ compensation cases where disability or permanent physical impairment occurs.
Ultimately, an injury that costs you part or all of your use of a body part should yield a certain payment. Each state has its own payout schedule for determining how much injured body parts are worth in workers’ compensation, and these amounts can vary widely. Settlement payouts that your friends received in Pennsylvania or Nevada will be different than they are for you in North Carolina, even if all of you had the same injuries.
How a Workers’ Comp Settlement for a RatingWorks in NC
To determine the value of your permanent partial disability for, you will need an evaluation from a doctor. The doctor will determine the percentage of disablement you have in each body part in which you suffered an injury. The Industrial Commission will not rely on your testimony about your level of impairment. This rating must come from a doctor, and it must come after you underwent regular treatment for your injury until the doctor determined you reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) for your injury.
Once you reach the point where the doctor believes your recovery has gone as far as it can, then the doctor will make a determination about your level of permanent impairment for workers’ comp purposes.
After the doctor files a report about your injuries and about your level of impairment, the Industrial Commission will review the findings and make the final determination about your payout, as specified in the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Statute. The Industrial Commission’s Rating Guide we mentioned earlier contains information about and descriptions of various impairment injuries that doctors can use as a guideline when trying to determine the proper recommendation regarding the percentage of impairment for the workers’ comp settlement for body part prices in North Carolina.
North Carolina Payout for Workers’ Compensation Disability Ratings for Length of Award
For starters, the Industrial Commission in NC provides information on the length of time an injured worker will receive payments, based first on the body part and then on the level of impairment. This payment fits under the definition of permanent partial disability benefits, or PPD benefits. Some of the most common injuries to body parts and the corresponding length of a potential payout for a full impairment of the body part, according to the North Carolina legislature, include:
|Body Part||North Carolina|
|Index Finger||45 weeks|
|Middle Finger||40 weeks|
|Ring Finger||25 weeks|
|Big Toe||35 weeks|
|Other Toe||10 weeks|
|Hearing One Ear||70 weeks|
|Hearing Two Ears||150 weeks|
As an example, should you as the injured employee have an impairment with your arm that the physician determines is a 50% impairment after reaching MMI, you would receive benefits equal to 120 weeks (which is 50% of the 240-week maximum on the chart).
As another example, should you suffer a pulled muscle as part of an injury in your leg, as long as you recover fully, you would not be able to receive any permanent impairment benefits. When you reach MMI, you must still have a level of impairment to receive any payment under PPD. If you believe the doctor is not measuring your level of impairment properly, reach out to our workers’ comp legal team. We can help you pursue a second opinion on the rating assigned.
Determining How Much Disability Ratings Are Worth in Workers’ Compensation in NC Depends on Your Individual Situation
In relation to the figures we listed, understand that your actual payout may differ, potentially by a significant amount. Your payout for your disability will depend on your actual wage. You should receive two-thirds of the average weekly wage you earned during the 12 months prior to your accident. So if you earned $600 per week before the injury, your starting amount for your impairment payment would be $400 per week, or 66.67% of your earnings.
Using the example we discussed earlier, if you made $600 per week before your injury, and if you received a 50% impairment rating on your arm, you potentially would be eligible for a $48,000 payment. This would be equal to the $400 multiplied by 120 weeks of payments for the arm injury with a 50% impairment. However, if you made $900 per week before the injury, your potential payout would be $72,000 under the same circumstances. As you can see, the payouts can vary quite a bit from case to case.
Determining How the Workers’ Comp Settlement of Disability Ratings Will Affect the Total Payout
It is important to note that your workers’ comp settlement for the body part prices impairment payment in North Carolina typically is separate from other workers’ compensation benefits you may receive related to your injury situation. The benefits you may be able to receive through a typical workers’ comp claim that do not affect PPD or impairment include:
- Wage loss benefits, which correspond to the amount of time the injured worker was unable to work while recovering from the injury.
- Medical bill benefits, which correspond to the medical costs the injured worker has related to the injury.
- Reimbursements, which may include a payment for mileage traveled to and from doctor’s appointments.
Additionally, you should be able to receive the payment for your body part impairment even after you return to work. Under the best-case scenario, if you start working again at the same company in the same job, earning the same or greater wages as prior to your injury, it should not affect your impairment payment.
Our Team Is Ready to Help With Your Workers’ Comp Settlement for Disability Ratings in a North Carolina Impairment Case
Dealing with a disabling or disfiguring injury at the jobsite is extremely challenging. You must face the physical pain of trying to recover from your injuries. Your pain may stick with you for the remainder of your life. You also must face the emotional trauma of dealing with the aftermath of the accident, along with the concerns you may have over your financial situation while you are out of work during your recovery. You may have emotional trauma related to the injury, especially if you lost the ability to use a limb or if you suffered an amputation.
At Sumwalt Anderson, our injury lawyers want to do everything they can to try to help you work through all the hardships you are facing. We know that determining if you are receiving the correct, or fair, amount for your injuries is not easy, but we have the experience to try to make the process go smoother. Should you receive denial of your claim, we will stand with you in an attempt to win the award we believe you should have. For a free review of your case, contact our team today at 206-741-1051. We all know workers’ comp payments don’t last forever, so it is important to start the process now, helping you receive the money you need as quickly as possible. We are ready to help.