WORKERS’ COMPENSATION RECOVERY WITHOUT AN IMPAIRMENT RATING
By Debbie A. Beals
Paralegal to Richard H. Irwin, Esq
When an examining physician finds an injured worker to have received reasonable treatment to help cure an injury, and determines that no further treatment will help improve the condition, the employee is considered stable, as the condition has reached a medical plateau. The employee will then be deemed Permanent & Stationary, or considered to have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
Currently, the examining physician’s MMI report relies upon the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides to determine impairment ratings for all injured or diseased body parts. An impairment rating can result in permanent disability indemnity payments to the injured worker. In some cases, there may be an injury with an impairment that is not ratable according the AMA Guides, and the employee is given a zero percent impairment rating.
California Labor Code, Section 5802 states: “If, in any proceeding under this division, it is proved that an injury has been suffered or which the employer would be liable to pay compensation if disability has resulted therefrom, but it is not proved that any disability has resulted, the appeals board may, instead of dismissing the application, award a nominal disability indemnity, if it appears that disability is likely to result at a future time.”
Never accept any settlement offer with a zero percent rating without first consulting with a State Bar Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney.