What is an impairment rating?

Florida’s PIP laws have been in the news a lot recently. Basically –  if you’re in a car accident and are in significant pain – get yourself to an ER or medical doctor within 14 days. For more details, or to determine whether you need to retain an aventura personal injury attorney at all, click on my prior Aventura personal injury lawyer blog post links below.

But, in any case, PIP is only worth up to a maximum of $10,000 in medical benefits and lost wages. How does the injured person get something for his pain and suffering?

To get beyond the $10,000 in PIP benefits, a doctor must assign the injured party a partial permanent impairment rating according to the AMA Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Assigning an impairment rating involves examining the body part or system adversely affected by the injury in question (as distinguished from a pre-existing condition or unrelated event) –by a doctor who specializes in the adversely affected body party or system (usually Orthopedic surgeons in personal-injury cases). An impairment rating cannot be assigned until the patient has reach Maximum-Medical Improvement (MMI) – which occurs after a sufficient period of time has elapsed since the injury and receiving therapy (i.e. when the treatment plateaus). At MMI, the doctor is essentially saying: you may not be 100% better, but more time and therapy is not going to help.

Importantly, impairment is not the same as disability. A disability may arise from an impairment. According to the AMA Guide:

  • Impairment is a significant deviation or loss of use of any body structure or function due to a health condition, disease or disorder (i.e. injury).
  • If the impairment is significant enough, it may be the cause of, or exacerbate, a disability.
  • Disability refers to limitations or restrictions in activity or participation due to a health condition, disease or disorder.
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