Injured workers, employers, and even doctors on workers’ comp provider lists in Nevada remain confused about whether an injured worker who is able to return to work full duty is entitled to a permanent partial disability award. Depending on the injury, an injured worker may be entitled to a rating evaluation and an award, even though the worker has been released to return to his pre=accident job without any permanent work restrictions.
The criteria for determining whether an injured worker has a ratable impairment is in the AMA Guide to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment 5th edition. That criteria focuses on anatomic alteration or dysfunction , as opposed to an inability to perform particular job requirements. For example,an inability to move an injured shoulder in one or more of the measurable planes of motion may result in a whole person percentage of impairment even if the injured worker has a sedentary job that requires very little use of the shoulder.
Another example of how this works would be an attorney and a piano player who both have a serious injury at each of their jobs resulting in the amputation of one of their pinkie fingers. Even though the attorney may be able to return to her job full duty, learning how to type with nine fingers, she would receive the same percentage of impairment as the piano player for an amputation of the pinkie finger. The piano player, if unable to return to work playing piano, would also be entitled to a retraining program or a vocational rehabilitation lump sum settlement in addition to a permanent partial disability award.
If your treating doctor checks off the box "no ratable impairment" on your final progress report, your adjuster will send you a letter stating that your claim will be close without an impairment evaluation. If you think that determination is in error and that you do have a ratable impairment, take advantage of a free consultation with an experienced attorney before you go through the appeals process and before you pay $693.31 to obtain a rating yourself. If your doctor tells you that you won’t get a rating because you can return to work full duty, you should check with an attorney whether the doctor is correct or not . Make sure that you file an appeal within 70days of the insurer’s determination letter closing your claim without a rating.
–Written by Virginia Hunt, Hunt Law Office