Evaluation of a Claim
There are three (3) primary factors considered in the evaluation of Workers’ Compensation claims:
- The nature of the injury, or specifically, the area, or areas of the body that is affected;
- The employee’s weekly compensation rate and any potential wage loss; and
- The degree of permanent impairment assessed by the treating physician.
Greater value is placed on some body parts over others. The back, as you would expect, carries a greater value than the leg. Logically, workers who earned higher incomes prior to their work injury will benefit from a higher weekly compensation rate that is used as the basis for the calculation of permanent disability benefits.
This is often why two (2) individuals with similar injuries, but different pay levels, will recover differing amounts for their injuries.
That and the fact that one might have been smart enough to hire an experienced attorney to maximize the value of that injury!
Great emphasis is placed on the opinion of the authorized physician (selected by the employer and his insurance carrier) who determines the degree of the worker’s permanent impairment. The “scheduled member” values listed in the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law serve as a rough guide for assessing the permanent disability benefits owed to a worker but, they do not address the “big picture.”
The focus of Workers’ Compensation is to try to compensate the worker for his diminished wage earning capacity as a result of the permanent impairment or loss of function.
Each Workers’ Compensation case is unique in that no two (2) individual claimants are exactly alike. Even in those cases in which the facts seem very similar, different case outcomes are likely.
Factors such as education, work history, age, pay, other jobs, other health issues, etc., all play a part in how a permanent impairment from a work injury affects an individual’s ability to earn a living.
For these reasons, skilled claimants’ attorneys often enlist the help of other professionals such as medical specialists, psychologists and psychiatrists, vocational experts, etc., to develop these aspects of an individual workers’ permanent Workers’ Compensation disability claim. We do this regularly.
Often additional testing is undertaken, such as a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) to more accurately determine the level of a worker’s physical or mechanical loss of function or a vocational evaluation to assess a worker’s employability based on his education, work background, skill levels, etc.
This is is just another reason why you need to hire an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney to handle your claim. Please feel free to call us at (843)971.0099. You can click here to reach us now and set up a no-cost conference to evaluate your claim.