Tennessee workers who are injured on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, the amount of benefits an employee is entitled to receive often depends on his or her medical impairment rating. Generally, an employee is entitled to more workers’ compensation benefits if he or she has a higher impairment rating.
Workers’ compensation claims can be complex, and many employees are denied the compensation they deserve for their injuries. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your claim. Your attorney will review your medical records to help you determine if you have been assigned an accurate impairment rating.
What is a Medical Impairment Rating?
When an employee has recovered from a work-related injury as much as is medically expected, the employee’s treating health care provider will declare that he or she has reached maximum medical improvement.
This means the worker has reached a medical state that cannot be improved any further or the worker’s medical treatment has reached the farthest stage of the healing process.
At this stage, the worker’s treating health care provider will assign him or her an impairment rating as a percentage between zero and 100. The rating is determined by the severity of the worker’s injury, the location of the injury on the worker’s body, and how it may affect his or her ability to work.
The amount of compensation you may be entitled to receive will be based on the rating you are assigned. Additionally, your rating will also determine whether you are entitled to receive Temporary Total Disability Benefits or Temporary Partial Disability Benefits.
What if I Disagree with My Impairment Rating?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for workers to disagree with their impairment rating. If you disagree with the rating you have been assigned, you may be able to dispute the health care provider’s decision.
Workers are entitled to arrange for an independent health care provider to complete a new evaluation at their own expense. Tennessee’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation maintains a Medical Impairment Registry that lists approved physicians who are qualified to conduct independent impairment rating evaluations.
However, insurance companies are not legally required to offer employees a second medical opinion. You should carefully consider if the additional evaluation is likely to provide a higher rating that offsets these additional costs.
To resolve a disputed impairment rating, you or your employer’s insurer can request an Alternative Dispute Resolution with the Mediation and Ombudsman Services of Tennessee. If an independent health care provider assigns you a higher rating during a follow up evaluation, it will be admissible evidence to use in the mediation process.
Mediation may be conducted privately between you and your employer’s insurer or with the assistance of a Mediation Specialist within Tennessee’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. To begin the mediation, you will need to complete and submit a Request for Mediation once you have reached maximum medical improvement.
If you are able to reach an agreement during the mediation, the terms of your workers’ compensation settlement will be included in a written Settlement Agreement that must be approved by the Bureau during an Approval Conference. A staff Attorney Specialist will then review the terms of the settlement to ensure the amount of your disability benefits is fair to both sides.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
If you are attempting to dispute your impairment rating, it is important to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for help during this process.
An attorney will review the impairment rating and be able to provide you with an informed suggestion as to whether you should accept a workers’ compensation settlement.
Additionally, a workers’ compensation attorney will request your medical records to determine if the doctor missed a factor that impacts your rating. He or she will evaluate the circumstances surrounding your claim and provide you with information so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue a second opinion.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
If you have been assigned an impairment rating that you do not believe is accurate, it is important to reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Your attorney will review your medical records and impairment rating to determine if you have been assigned an appropriate rating. If the rating seems inaccurate, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine your options for obtaining the compensation you need.
At Greg Coleman Law, our personal injury lawyers in Knoxville will provide a free initial consultation to discuss your impairment rating and find out if it accurately represents your work-related injury. All of our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, which means you only have to pay us if we help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
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