Are you an employee who was injured on the job? Have you visited your doctor for your work-related back injury? Did they tell you that, regarding your back injury, you have a 10% permanent disability? If so, what were they talking about? If, pertaining to your injury rating, you accept payment from your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation case, what effect will it have on your case? In fact, what are injury ratings? How these questions are answered could mean whether or not you can support your family, pay your bills, continue working, receive compensation, and more.
Worse yet, the answers never seem to be cut and dried. They’re as tricky as any other legal situation.
Getting Injured On The Job
If you suffer a wage loss due to a work-related injury, you are entitled to disability payments of one type or another. That’s the law. But there are a lot of ifs, ands, or buts that make the terminology of Workers’ Compensation laws hard to understand for the average person. That’s why any employee who is injured on the job should immediately retain the services of a knowledgeable and experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney.
With all of that said, let’s take a look at North Carolina’s injury ratings.
Under the North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Law, disability benefits are payable to employees suffering permanent injuries, whether there is actually a wage loss or not. In North Carolina General Statutes 97-31 you will find a list of body parts that are covered. Even if an injured employee can earn their pre-injury wage after returning to work, they can still receive Permanent Partial Disability benefits if one of those body parts receives a permanent injury.
Once someone with one of the above described injuries has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (the end of their healing period), the affected body part receives a disability rating from the authorized treating physician. To determine the rating, the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s NC Workers’ Comp Rating Guide may be used by the doctor. Pertaining to the affected body part, the percentage of permanent impairment is represented by the rating.
At the employer’s expense, should the employee wish, they may seek an additional Permanent Personal Disability rating second opinion from a doctor of their choice.
It is upon the final rating, and more, that Permanent Partial Disability benefits will be based. The three factors that are considered are as follows:
- The injured workers’ compensation rate
- The number of weeks assigned for the injured body part
- The rating assigned by the doctor
According to the North Carolina General Statute listed above, the following are covered for disability payments:
- Partial or total loss of vision in one eye
- Partial or total loss of hearing in an ear
- Injury to an important bodily organ (i.e., lungs, heart, etc.)
- In certain circumstances, disfigurement or scarring
The North Carolina Industrial Commission has final say on the approval of the payment of Permanent Partial Disability benefits. Sometimes, for the appropriate number of weeks, the benefit can be paid out weekly, but is usually done so in a lump sum. Any and all other ongoing disability payments will cease once the payment based on a rating is made. These include Temporary Partial Disability payments and Temporary Total Disability benefits.
However… if you accept a rating payment, it does not terminate medical benefits, and it is by no means a final and full settlement.
Confused yet? Contact Cardinal Law Partners!
At Cardinal Law Partners, we have highly experienced, knowledgeable attorneys who specialize in Workers’ Compensation cases. We have 50 years of combined legal experience with each attorney standing by to represent you and see that your rights are upheld. If you’ve been injured on the job, don’t wait another day to contact us. Your first consultation is free.