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What are “injury ratings” in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system?

| Dec 24, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

After your workplace injury, it didn’t take long before you started hearing something about an injury rating system. Maybe the doctor you were assigned mentioned it or the insurance company’s adjuster called and asked if you were willing to settle your claim based on your injury rating.

Here’s what you need to consider:

The rating system is used with permanent partial disabilities

Many workplace injuries cause only temporary impairments. When certain body parts suffer a permanent injury, however, your treating physician may assign an impairment rating based on the perceived loss of function or lasting damage to those body parts as part of your permanent partial disability (PPD).

Settlement offers often follow a PPD rating

Based on that impairment rating, you may be offered a settlement for your workers’ comp claim. But be wary, because accepting that settlement may not be in your best interests. Here’s why:

  • The doctor may be undervaluing your injuries. There’s a lot of leeway in how doctors assign injury ratings, and you don’t want to accept a settlement that is less than you are due. You may want to get a second opinion before agreeing to accept the proffered settlement.
  • You could eventually lose your right to claim any additional benefits related to your injury. Once you accept payment for a PPD rating, you only have two years to file any subsequent claim for either cash benefits or medical treatment if your condition worsens. That can be particularly tricky if your condition could eventually deteriorate, such as what often happens with hearing and vision loss and other impairments.
  • You could be giving up your right to more valuable benefits. This includes the ongoing wage replacement payments that you may be due.

It’s never wise to accept a settlement offer from workers’ compensation if your condition is serious and limits your ability to work without carefully thinking about the consequences. An attorney can explain what’s happening in your case, what you can expect next and what steps you should take to preserve your future.