What Is a Permanent Impairment Rating? How Does It Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident or other scenario in which you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you often will have suffered injuries.  You could be lucky, and your injuries may be relatively minor and resolved with the proper medical treatment and with the passage of time.  However, in most cases, your injuries are likely more serious and will require months and months of medical treatment, physical therapy, and more doctor’s appointments and prescription medications than you can count.  If your injuries are serious enough, however, many times no matter what type or how much medical treatment, physical therapy, or surgeries you receive or undergo, your injuries may be permanent to a greater or lesser degree.  Given the speeds at which many motor vehicle accidents take place and the stresses they place on the human body, there simply may be no way to avoid permanent injuries that cannot be fixed.  There are limits to what modern medicine, as advanced as it is in so many respects, can do if you have been injured badly enough.  In that case, there is a concept called the permanent impairment rating.  This is a tool for both physicians, courts, and attorneys to have some way of measuring how seriously injured someone is based on a standardized assessment developed by the American Medical Association (AMA).  It assists the jury by having a measure of what effect an accident had on the individual.  It also helps the jury when considering what amounts to award in terms of future wage losses and pain and suffering as a result of the claimant’s injuries.

Nevertheless, a permanent impairment rating can sometimes be used the wrong way or overused in Florida personal injury litigation.  The experienced Florida personal injury attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley understand the value that a permanent impairment rating from either your treating physician or an unbiased physician can have for purposes of helping you obtain maximum compensation for your injuries caused by someone else’s negligence.  We know exactly how to properly use a permanent impairment rating as a tool to assist our clients in obtaining maximum compensation for their injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident and will not hesitate to use it as a tool to assist our clients when it will be most effective.

What Is a Permanent Impairment Rating?

 A permanent impairment rating is your treating physician’s or another physician’s assessment as to what impact the injuries you may have suffered due someone else’s negligence have had on your ability to function going forward into the future.  It is the physician’s best guess, utilizing a scale developed by the AMA.  A permanent impairment rating is only assessed when a patient has reached maximum medical improvement (the point at which no amount or type of medical treatment will help the patient improve any further), is well stabilized, and not likely to change considerably in the next year, whether the person receives medical treatment or not.  It is expressed as a percentage, with the permanent impairment rating being the percentage corresponding to whatever loss of the person’s functional abilities was due to the injuries he or she suffered.

The Uses of a Permanent Impairment Rating in Your Personal Injury Case

Although more commonly associated with worker’s compensation claims, a permanent impairment rating can also raise its head in personal injury cases.  This is because, if used correctly, it can be a helpful tool for the jury to understand not only the injuries suffered by the claimant, but also the effects that those injuries will have for the claimant for the rest of his or her life.  This becomes important for the jury when it considers the consequences that the injuries suffered by the claimant may have on his or her ability to earn a living in the future. But it also comes into play when the jury determines the pain and suffering and mental anguish a person may experience for the rest of his or her life knowing that he or she will never be 100% recovered from injuries suffered because of a motor vehicle accident.  This is a powerful fact and one that is important for the jury to consider when it is assessing what amount to award a victim of someone else’s negligence for pain and suffering.

Many defense lawyers may attack a permanent impairment rating assigned by a claimant’s treating physician as biased since the rating has been assigned by the claimant’s treating physician, who the defense lawyers will argue has a bias towards his or her  patient.  However, this is simply misleading for several reasons.  First, a treating physician will have the best knowledge of a claimant’s injuries and whether he or she really has reached maximum medical improvement.  Indeed, if the patient has reached maximum medical improvement, then the treating physician assigning a permanent impairment rating will not be treating that patient again, which weakens this bias argument. Lastly, a permanent impairment is assessed using a rating scale promulgated by the American Medical Association, which further lessens the effectiveness of any bias argument a defense attorney may make.

Nevertheless, experienced personal injury attorneys often will obtain a permanent impairment rating from a physician who is evaluating the patient for the first and only time to alleviate any potential bias.  The defense will have a much more difficult time establishing that an independent physician who has never before examined the claimant is somehow biased.

Contact Schwed, Adams & McGinley

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of representing the victims of motor vehicle accidents and other personal injury scenarios in Florida.  We have represented many personal injury plaintiffs who are in the unfortunate position of having suffered injuries from which they may never recover completely as a result of someone else’s negligence.  In such instances, we will work with your treating physician or an independent medical expert to provide the jury with a permanent impairment rating to assist in assessing the amount that would make you whole for the permanent injuries suffered through someone else’s negligence.  If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence in Florida, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.