You may be eligible for a workers’ compensation impairment rating if you get injured at work. In South Carolina, this is an objective calculation that determines the extent of your injury and how it impacts your ability to perform daily life activities.
Whether the rating is for medical treatment or settlement purposes, it’s essential to understand how these ratings work in SC so that you can make the most of them.
What Are Impairment Ratings?
Impairment ratings are a cost-benefit analysis used by South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance carriers to determine the percentage of permanent disability an injured worker is entitled to for a given injury.
As such, impairment ratings are used when there has been a loss of function but no permanent loss of physical integrity. This can be due to an injury involving only soft tissue and not bone or joint damage (for example, whiplash), or it can simply be because you did not require any surgery for the work to heal properly (for example, a sprained ankle).
How Do Impairment Ratings Work in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, workers’ compensation law, every injured worker has to receive an impairment rating calculation. The impairment rating determines the benefits payable in a workers’ compensation claim.
The rating is based on the injured worker’s medical condition and ability to work. A South Carolina workers’ compensation impairment rating can range from 0% (meaning no permanent injury) to 100% (indicating total permanent disability).
You need to know that your impairment ratings could change over time as your health improves or worsens due to new medical conditions or limitations on your job duties.
What Are the Factors Behind an Impairment Rating?
To help decide how much of an impact an injury will have on your life, here are some factors that go into calculating impairment rating:
- The severity of the injury
- The extent of the damage (how far into your body it goes)
- The length of time the injury lasts
- Whether medical treatment is necessary after surgery or other procedures
- How much time off work is essential due to pain and discomfort from healing wounds or injuries
Impairment ratings also take into account functional impairment. This means that if you have a broken leg but can walk on it without pain, then you may not receive as high an impairment rating as someone who has lost the use of their arm due to nerve damage or arthritis in their wrist.
Calculating Impairment Rating
To determine your impairment ratings, you need a doctor’s note outlining how your injury impacted your life. There are several different levels of impairment. Each level represents an additional amount of compensation for your injury. These levels are:
- No Impairment: You have no physical or mental limitations due to your work-related injury. This means you can work and make the same amount of money as before the accident.
- Mild Impairment: You have mild physical limitations, but they do not affect your ability to do basic activities like walking or lifting light objects.
- Moderate Impairment: You have moderate physical limitations that cause difficulty with some activities, but not all. For example, you may be able to walk and lift light objects, but not heavy objects, or perform more complex tasks without difficulty.
- Severe Impairment: You have severe physical limitations that interfere with most activities, such as walking and lifting heavy objects or performing complex tasks without difficulty; however, the disability may improve over time.
What is the Impairment Rating Payout in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the amount of money an injured worker can receive is determined by the level of impairment and their ability to do the job. The law uses the severity or permanency of this impairment to decide what kind of impairment rating payout an injured worker receives: temporary total or permanent total; or a temporary partial or permanent partial.
The amount received will depend on whether it’s considered a temporary or permanent disability based on medical evidence provided by physicians specializing in occupational medicine (formerly known as vocational rehabilitation). These doctors will evaluate whether there was any significant change in work-related activities after having surgery related to workplace accidents.
What Happens After Getting an Impairment Rating?
The next step is to take your rating before the workers’ compensation tribunal, either for approval or modification. If you’re seeking consent, you must present “medical theory” evidence that supports your impairment rating.
This means you provide documented medical testimony from doctors who have examined and treated you and any other medical records supporting their opinions about your condition.
If you hope to show how your impairment has impacted your ability to work and earn an income, then “economic theory” evidence can be used instead. Economic experts will testify on how much it costs employers in South Carolina (and elsewhere) to hire someone with similar skills and abilities as those affected by an injury.
They can also explain the difference in productivity between an injured worker and a healthy one—and what effect this would have on their productivity level at work.
Contact A South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you get injured on the job, it’s necessary to determine the amount of payout you are entitled to for your injury. Impairment ratings are a standard part of workers’ compensation. Getting familiar with how they work will help you understand the process better.
An attorney can help you understand whether your impairment rating is correct and if there is anything you can do about it. If you do not know where to turn, consider contacting Elrod Pope Law Firm for help today.
Impairment Rating FAQs
Am I eligible for a workers’ compensation impairment rating?
You are eligible for an impairment rating if you get injured while on the job. In South Carolina, all employers must have Workers’ Compensation insurance that covers their employees in case of injury or illness related to their work. This includes injuries caused by a specific event and long-term disabilities related to occupational hazards.
Is the impairment rating payout part of my workers’ comp settlement?
You can receive separate payments in a workers’ compensation settlement in South Carolina. The first is an impairment rating payout, which is not part of your workers’ compensation settlement. The second is your damages award and medical expenses, which are part of your workers’ compensation settlement.