On-the-Job Injuries Can Impact Your Ability to Work
Florida Impairment Rating Scale and Workers’ Compensation Can Provide a Level of Relief
If you have been seriously injured on the job, you are more than likely concerned with your workers’ compensation claim, your impairment rating and what you can expect to receive in the form of a settlement. After all, medical treatment can be costly, and, depending upon the severity of your injury, your future earning capacity may also be negatively impacted. In fact, those with more severe injuries may not only miss work during their recoveries, but they may also be unable to return to the same position because of the resulting limitations. Quite simply, they may not be able to do what they could before. Employees injured at work in Florida may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation funds are for medical expenses, lost wages, and even benefits. In the state, the level of compensation to which those who have been hurt are entitled is usually based on the extent of the injuries they have suffered. This is where the term “impairment rating” comes into play. If you have been injured on the job in Florida and have questions regarding your impairment rating and compensation you should contact a Florida workers’ comp lawyer to learn how the impairment rating settlement amounts in Florida will impact you.
What Is an Impairment Rating?
If you were seriously injured while at work, the term impairment rating is one with which you should be familiar. An impairment rating is a measure used to determine the benefits that you should receive.
Those who are injured while on the job should always seek immediate medical treatment. This is particularly true if your injury is serious. Your treatment is considered complete when you have achieved your maximum medical improvement (MMI), as established by your doctor. However, this does not mean that you are as good as new and ready to move on as if the injury never occurred. Many who have hit this stage want to know what they can expect after they reach MMI.
In fact, those that suffer severe injury may never be the same. This is why it’s important to know the impairment rating settlement amount you can expect to receive in Florida. To identify the level of benefits to which you are entitled under Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, you will be awarded a Florida impairment rating. The higher the rating, the more serious the injury.
The state provides an impairment income benefit calculator that can help you better understand what you may expect to receive in compensation. However, this is just a guideline. An employment lawyer can review your situation and help provide a more accurate estimate.
Florida Workers’ Compensation and Permanent Injuries
The Permanent Impairment Rating Scale in Florida Impacts Your Settlement
On-the-job accidents that result in permanent and total disability are not commonplace. However, mishaps while at work do occur and can result in severe and life-altering injuries. And, in fact, many individuals may be partially permanently disabled (PPD). If this describes your condition, you may be entitled to a workers’ compensation settlement in Florida.
Permanent Impairment Ratings (PIR) in the state range from 1% to 100%, with 100% assigned to those who are completely and permanently disabled. This rating is used to figure out the value of your unemployment benefits as well as the amount of time for which you can expect to be paid. The chart below summarizes the relationship between the impairment rating and the number of weeks of pay allotted by Florida law.
|Degree of Impairment||Number of Weeks Paid (Per Point)|
|1% – 10%||Two Weeks|
|11% – 15%||Three Weeks|
|16% – 20%||Four Weeks|
|21% +||Six Weeks|
Example of Impairment Rating and Amount of Benefits Payment
The system can be confusing to understand as the payments build upon each other. To illustrate, assume your degree of impairment has been determined by your doctor to be 18%.
You would receive:
- 20 weeks of pay for the first 10% degree of impairment (2 weeks X 10 percentage points)
- 15 more weeks for the five percent increase of impairment to 15% (3 weeks x 5 percentage points)
- 12 weeks for the next 3 percentage points (4 weeks X 3 percentage points
In total, you would expect to receive pay for 47 (20+15+12) weeks.
It is also important to recognize that the pay scale for permanent wage benefits is calculated as a percentage of your temporary disability benefits, not your actual salary. These benefits are calculated at 75% of the disability benefits, and you would receive that payment for the appropriate time period, as calculated above.
Your disability benefits are also not the same as your average weekly wage (what you actually earn). Your Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is either based on your earnings for the 13 weeks prior to your injury or your annual (52 weeks) salary.
In short, if you have suffered an injury while at work, and that injury impacts your ability to work permanently, you would be entitled to the compensation as described above. Total and permanent impairments yield higher settlements.
Who Determines an Impairment Rating?
Clearly, an accurate impairment rating is important. It directly affects the compensation for which you are eligible. According to Florida Statute 440.15 (3), impairment ratings must be made by a licensed medical professional. This includes medical, osteopathic, chiropractic, or podiatric doctors.
In many cases, the physician who has been treating you for your injuries would be the person to make this decision. That said, this process is complex and takes many factors into account regarding your health, injury, and abilities.
How Are Impairment Ratings Determined?
In 1996 the Florida Division of Workers Compensation, together with a three-member panel, adopted the Florida Impairment Rating Guide. This publication is a compilation of sixteen sections, fourteen of which refer to areas of the body that may have sustained injury.
- Musculoskeletal – The Spine
- Introduction to Musculoskeletal
- Musculoskeletal – Upper Extremities
- Musculoskeletal – Lower Extremities
- The Nervous System
- Mental and Behavioral Disorders
- The Respiratory System
- The Cardiovascular System
- The Hematopoietic System
- The Visual System
- Ear, Nose, Throat, and Related Structures
- The Digestive System
- The Endocrine System
- Skin Disorders
As you may imagine, the information regarding each section is considerable. For more details, please refer to the Florida Impairment Rating Guide online. In-depth information is provided along with definitions and values charts. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you reference and understand how this information applies to you.
What Happens When There Is the Loss of a Body Part?
Florida Workers’ Comp Settlement Chart
Some jobs can be hazardous and put your body at risk. Individuals who operate forklifts, work in factories, maintain and repair machinery, and work in farming are among those who may suffer the loss of limbs while at work.
Injuries of this type are catastrophic. Those who are impacted will never be the same. To say these are life-altering experiences is an understatement.
If you have been the victim of amputation while at work, you are entitled to a settlement. While Florida does not assign a specific value to body parts, those who do suffer injuries like this historically have been compensated for their losses.
The chart below shares the average compensation for a lost body part both in the state of Florida and in the United States. All values are shared as reported by Propublica.org.
|Body Part||Florida||United States Average|
* Average maximum compensation data is not available for every state
Average settlements in Florida tend to trend below the country averages in every category except for the loss of an arm or hand. But, other compensation may also be available. Should you or a loved one experience a catastrophic injury like the ones listed above, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the settlement you deserve. Ask an attorney about how the impairment rating settlement amount in Florida could impact your claim.
Professional Advice and Counsel Is Key to Getting the Best Possible Settlement
Workers’ Compensation Claims Can Be Complex and Contentious
While filing a claim for workers’ compensation should be simple, it’s not. The combination of administrative details and necessary negotiation is a lot to manage, especially for someone overcoming a serious illness or injury. Rehabilitation and recovery both require significant energy and attention. You owe it to yourself to focus on getting better.
The claims process requires a considerable amount of reporting. You will need to complete forms, submit records and, unfortunately, negotiate and possibly litigate to receive the compensation you need and deserve. When you work with an experienced employment attorney, he or she will manage the process on your behalf.
Insurance Companies Protect Themselves
The belief that insurance companies’ primary concerns are the well-being and best interests of their clients (policy holders) is misplaced. Bottom line, insurance companies are business – with stockholders. Their allegiance is to those individuals and entities, thus their ultimate goal is profitability.
Workers’ compensation, for insurance companies, is a balancing act. The premiums they receive for their policies are income, and the claims they pay are expenses. Each claim paid reduces its profitability.
Often, the administrative process becomes so complicated for the injured worker that they agree to settle just to be able to move on. This, however, is not in your best interest. The money awarded in a settlement is critical to paying your expenses and, in the case of impairment, compensating you for lost wages. This is why many of our clients want to know about the impairment rating settlement amount in Florida.
You and your family need those funds to survive. And, because you were injured while on the job, you are entitled to them.
Contact an Employment Lawyer for Help
If you have suffered a serious injury, there is no doubt you are in considerable pain and under significant emotional distress. An experienced Florida employment attorney can not only help you understand how much you can expect to receive for your worker’s compensation claim but can also assist you in navigating the system.
This professional will assist you in accurately completing and submitting all necessary forms within the required time frames. He or she can leverage their knowledge of the impairment rating process to help ensure that the rating you receive is appropriate. After all, this figure plays a crucial role in determining the level of benefits you can expect to receive.
Finally, a qualified workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate settlement offers, negotiate on your behalf and litigate if necessary. The entire process is time-consuming. It requires regular follow-up and an understanding of how things work. Working with a labor lawyer can be the key to maximizing your benefits.
The Feldman Legal Group Is Ready to Work for You
The tagline “Fighting for the Injured” on our firm’s website is more than just a slogan. It is truly the basis of the company’s existence and premise on which we operate each and every day.
Led by attorney Mitchell Feldman, our firm has earned an exceptional reputation for providing high-quality service. Our team knows that clients who are filing workers’ compensation claims and suits are under an abundance of stress. They are suffering the effects of their injuries and are often worried about their futures. Communication can be difficult. Compassionate and empathetic client interactions are a hallmark of our firm’s approach. We appreciate the situation facing those with whom they work and are dedicated to helping make the process as smooth as possible.
Additionally, our firm is known for being aggressive negotiators and litigators as we fight for the best possible compensation for each and every client. We are well-versed in the area of impairment rating settlements and are ready to go to work on your behalf. We firmly believe that when an individual is injured on the job they deserve to be compensated.