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How Workers' Comp Disability Works vs Impairment Levels | The Law Firm of Webster & Carlton

It's different than a typical negligence claim would be if you'd gotten run over by a car or you slipped and fell, something to that personal injury type of deal. Under the work comp statute, what happens is that the statute divides you into little bitty pieces, and each piece is given a certain number of weeks of disability. For instance, back to that shoulder example, the shoulder is worth 232 weeks of permanent partial disability. Depending upon the level of problems that you're still having, and the limitations that you still have, you get a percentage of that 232 weeks. It's not something that's set in stone, there's no particular way to figure it out, it goes on experience or what the medical provider may say is the level of disability.

What's unfortunate and that an attorney can be very helpful in the state of Missouri, a lot of times the authorized treating physician will provide what's called a disability rating but they will use what's called the AMA Guides or the American Medical Association Guides To Impairment. Missouri is not an impairment state, we are a disability state. Impairment is what is used by Kansas, which uses this as a guide. So those guides say they may be a range of motion model or a model based upon what type of surgery you had, and it'll give a percentage of impairment associated with that. It is super conservative. Very, very low rating when you look at what a disability rating would be as opposed to what an impairment rating using those guides is.

So if you've got an insurance company that sends you to the doctor, that doctor then provides a rating based upon the AMA guides, which is almost always going to be super low. So you've got to know that we're not an impairment state, we're a disability state, and then what is the way to figure out disability, which is either experience or a medical opinion. And that's kind of what we bring to the table that we can do to help people make sure that that number is a fair representation.