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Can Your Ft. Lauderdale Workers Comp Attorney Challenge Your Disability Rating?

When you suffer a workplace accident, there’s always the chance that it will cause permanent injuries. If this is the case, you may be entitled to permanent benefits. The only way to know for sure is to sit down with a seasoned Ft. Lauderdale workers comp attorney. Here, we’ll discuss how your disability rating is determined. We will also explain how your disability rating will impact your claim.

What Exactly Is a Disability Rating in Workers Compensation?

Once you’ve completed treatment for your workplace injuries, you may not be fully recovered. If this is the case, you may be deemed permanently disabled. For example, if you suffer a back or neck injury, you may never fully heal.

If this is the case, the insurance company will want to know just how serious your disability is. They’ll also want to know if your disability is permanent. This is referred to as your disability rating. If you’re interested in learning more about what you should do if your Workers Comp gets denied, visit this page

This rating will specify exactly what your disability is. It will also identify what percentage of disability you are suffering from.

Your Disability Rating Will Be Determined Once You’ve Achieved Maximum Medical Improvement

When you first go out on workers compensation, the goal is for you to heal enough to return to work. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, this can take some time.

Some employees are back to work in a matter of weeks. However, if your injuries are more serious, it can take a lot longer.

Regardless of how bad your injuries are, at some point, your doctor will determine that you’ve achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that further treatment will not improve your condition. When this happens, you’re expected to return to work.

Who Is Responsible for Determining Your Disability Rating?

Since your workers compensation doctor is the one who determines when you’ve reached MMI, it makes sense that they’ll determine your disability rating. Since this is the doctor who has treated you the entire time, they will be the one to determine if you’re permanently disabled.

Imagine that you suffered a back injury at work. Your doctor has determined that you will never be able to work in the construction industry again. In fact, your permanent injuries are so bad, you won’t be able to work at all.

If this is the case, they may give you a disability rating of 100%. Or, more reasonably, they will issue a disability rating of 75%.

What Factors Are Considered When Calculating Your Disability Rating?

Your Ft. Lauderdale workers comp attorney can explain how the doctor will decide what your disability rating is. Essentially, it comes down to the standards set forth in the Florida Uniform Permanent Impairment Rating Guidelines.

These guidelines are broken down based on different parts of the human body. Each section lays out the tests the doctor must conduct to determine your percentage of disability. Once they have completed your assessment, they will come up with a final percentage of permanent disability.

This is the number that will be used to determine what further benefits you will receive.

Man in a wheelchair with a workers comp disability rating.

What if Your Ft. Lauderdale Workers Comp Attorney Disagrees With the Rating Assigned to Your Claim?

Not surprisingly, there are times when your Ft. Lauderdale work injury lawyer disagrees with your final disability rating. For example, the doctor may indicate that your rating is only 15%. Your attorney, on the other hand, believes it is closer to 60%.

The reason this is so important is that any disability rating of up to 20% only entitles you to a few weeks of disability benefits. Once you exceed 20%, your duration of benefits increases significantly.

Your Ft. Lauderdale Work Injury Lawyer Can Get a Second Opinion

If you don’t agree with your doctor’s disability rating, you can certainly get a second opinion. Your Ft. Lauderdale workers comp attorney can have you examined by an independent doctor.

According to Florida Statute §440.15, any licensed osteopath, chiropractic doctor, or podiatrist can issue a disability rating. Your attorney will simply find an acceptable medical professional to complete your independent medical examination (IME).

Your Ft. Lauderdale Workers Comp Attorney Can File an Appeal 

If, after reviewing the results of your IME, the insurance company still refuses to increase your disability rating, you can file an appeal. The dispute between your Ft. Lauderdale work injury lawyer and the insurance carrier will be decided by the Judge of Compensation. They will decide what your final disability rating is.

If you aren’t satisfied with their final decision, you can file an appeal with the District Court of Appeals. However, this is a last resort. Unless you’re suffering from paralysis or some other life-changing injury, things shouldn’t get to this point.

Why Is Your Disability Rating So Important?

You may wonder why your disability rating is so important. The reason it’s so critical is that it will dictate what kind of permanent benefits you receive. The higher your disability rating, the more you will be entitled to.

Since your Ft. Lauderdale workers comp attorney will base their settlement negotiations on your total award, it’s important that it be as generous as possible.

This Rating Will Determine How Long You’ll Collect Permanent Disability Benefits

While each is unique, it is important to understand what the basic payouts are for your disability rating. According to Florida Statute 440.15(1)(a), the following is the guideline for your permanent disability benefits:

  • <10% = 2 weeks of benefits
  • 11-15% = 3 weeks of benefits
  • 16-20% = 4 weeks of benefits
  • 21% and higher = 6 weeks of benefits plus an additional 6 weeks for each percentage point over 21%

How Long Will You Collect These Benefits?

If your disability rating is high, then there is a good chance you’ll receive benefits for quite some time. For anyone with a disability rating greater than 20%, you can collect benefits until you turn 65 years old.

For a worker with a disability rating over 50%, this can be a great deal of money. However, rather than sit back and continue to receive benefits, your Ft. Lauderdale workers comp attorney will negotiate a lump sum settlement on your behalf.

You Should Have a Fort Lauderdale Work Injury Lawyer by Your Side

A Fort Lauderdale work injury lawyer will help you throughout the duration of your claim. They can also help when it comes time to determine your disability rating.

If you suffer a workplace injury, you should focus on making a full recovery. The last thing you’ll want to do is fight with the insurance company. That’s why we suggest you contact our experienced Florida workers comp attorneys at the outset.

Our firm offers all new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to find out what your options are. Let them know what your concerns are and see how they can help.