Wyoming: Increase in PPI After Additional Surgery Denied Based on AMA Sixth

Illustrating a point argued by many claimants’ attorneys—that the 6th Edition of the AMA Guides provides for significantly lower levels of permanent partial impairment than did the 5th Edition—the Supreme Court of Wyoming recently affirmed the Commission’s denial of a claimant’s request for an increase in PPI where, six years later, it was undisputed that the claimant needed additional surgery to alleviate increased pain levels. Claimant sustained a work-related injury to his back in 2004. We received a whole body PPI rating of 21 percent, utilizing the 5th Edition of the Guides. By 2010, claimant’s level of back pain increased and additional surgery was approved. He received TTD benefits during the recuperative period and after reaching MMI, he was again evaluated for PPI. By 2010, however, the 6th Edition of the Guides became the standard for evaluating permanent impairment. Using the newer edition, physicians gave claimant a whole body impairment rating of seven percent. Because the 2010 PPI evaluation resulted in a rating that was less than the 2005 rating, the Division denied a PPI award beyond the 21% already paid and the Commission affirmed. The Supreme Court indicated that given both the clear statutory mandate that any impairment rating be calculated using the most recent edition of the AMA Guides and the Court's precedent recognizing that the Act required a comparison of an injured employee's impairment ratings to prevent a double recovery, it had to reject claimant's suggestion that ratings calculated under different editions of the Guides could not be compared. Citing Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the court indicated that the burden was upon the claimant to show a change of condition. Claimant had made no such showing.

Reported by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.

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See Green v. State, ex. rel. Dep’t of Workforce Servs., 2013 WY 81, 2013 Wyo. LEXIS 86 (July 9, 2013) [2013 Wyo. LEXIS 86 (July 9, 2013)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 80.07 [80.07]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.

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