Understanding Impairment Ratings in Indiana Injury Cases
Workers’ compensation claims often require an impairment rating evaluation by a physician to determine the severity of an injury and the percentage of physical impairment.
Impairment Ratings Impact Benefits
Indiana workers who suffer work-related injuries are eligible to receive a range of benefits through the state workers compensation system, including medical treatments and payments to cover a portion of lost wages. Eligibility for specific benefits depends on the nature of a worker’s injuries, the extent of his/her permanent limitations, and the ability to return to work. If a worker is found to be temporarily or permanently disabled, an impairment rating evaluation may be ordered to determine the severity of the worker’s injury and the level of the worker’s impairment.
Permanent Partial Impairment Ratings
When a workers compensation claim is filed, a medical exam by a licensed physician is necessary to verify the injury and determine a course of treatment. Once an injured worker reaches maximum medical improvement (MMI), the physician will assign a Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) rating that shows the percentage of the worker’s impairment.
A PPI rating assigns a number value to the permanent, partial, loss of function of the body or a single body part. This number coincides with the degree of physical and/or mental impairment caused by the injury. Depending on the nature of the injury, an impairment may be mild or severe and/or temporary or permanent. While some injuries do not warrant a PPI rating, others result in very high PPI ratings. The higher the impairment, the higher the rating. Indiana personal injury lawyers see a variety of injuries that impact a worker’s ability to perform normal job duties or even return to work.
PPI ratings and weekly benefits are calculated based on the injury and affected body part. The PPI rating is converted into a dollar amount for payable benefits based on a complicated formula that multiplies each degree of impairment by a specific dollar amount that increases in increments. For injuries occurring after July 1, 2016, values are:
- $1,750 per degree for the first 10 degrees of impairment
- $1,952 per degree for impairment degrees between 11 and 35
- $3,186 per degree for impairment degrees between 36 and 50
- $4,060 for each degree over 50
In Indiana, workers’ compensation benefits are paid by employers, not by the state. PPI ratings are important to injured workers because they are the main factor in determining the dollar value of a workers’ compensation claim.