Florida’s workers compensation laws are sometimes difficult to understand. “Workers Comp” allows a worker injured on the job to treat with doctors until the doctor decides that the injured worker has received all the care they need to return them to the workforce. This is referred to as reaching MMI, short for maximum medical improvement. When an worker injured in
Florida is placed at MMI, they will be given an “impairment rating”. Calculating a Florida impairment rating, and understanding what a Florida impairment rating means, can be confusing.
Florida Statute 440.15 sets forth the criteria for when and how to go through calculating a
Florida impairment rating. A treating doctor shall evaluate the condition of the injured worker after the worker has been placed at MMI, or 6 weeks prior to the expiration of temporary wage benefits (usually 104 weeks from the date of accident). The doctor is required to establish an overall MMI date, and assign a permanent impairment rating. The doctor can assign anywhere from 0% to over 20%. The higher percentage rating given corresponds to how serious an injury the worker suffered. The doctor will place a statement on the medical record which says “the injured worker has sustained a 5% (or whatever the percentage rating is) whole person impairment rating”. A rating of 20% or higher may mean the injured worker is permanently and totally disabled from returning to work.
Florida Statute 440.15(3) also states that the impairment rating should be made by a licensed medical, osteopathic, chiropractic or podiatric doctor, and should be based upon the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Guidelines. The rating guidelines use numerous criteria to assess the severity of a person’s injury. The guidelines allow for the assessment of an impairment rating for things like restricted range of motion, broken bones, surgically treated injuries, psychiatric or psychological injuries, aggravation of pre-existing injuries, and many other injuries and restrictions a person can suffer on the job. The actual guidelines are over 100 pages so assigning calculating a Florida impairment rating can be difficult.
An impairment rating is used for two purposes. The first reason an impairment rating is assigned is it entitles the injured worker to more money. Florida Statute 440.15(3)(g) states the impairment benefits are to be paid out as follows:
The benefit, or amount of money, to be paid is calculated at 75% of your normal compensation rate.
As indicated above, if your rating is 20% or higher, you are presumed to be permanently and totally disabled from working, and should be entitled to receive workers compensation wage benefits up to the age of 65.
Calculating a Florida impairment rating is an important part of the workers compensation process. Receiving an impairment rating means that you most likely have been returned to work by your doctor, and it means you are entitled to more money. It is also the time when most insurance companies become motivated to settle your workers compensation claim.
This article originally appeared on Best Syndication. Reprinted with permission by Joseph M. Maus & Associates.