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Understanding more about permanent impairment -- II

In a previous post, we began discussing how injured workers who ultimately find themselves unable to return to their old roles or take new positions with modified duties can derive some much-needed comfort from the fact that they may be found to have a permanent impairment, which means they would be eligible for regular benefits.

Specifically, we discussed how a physician will make a determination as to whether there is a permanent impairment and, if so, assign one of three different forms, including scheduled impairment, whole person impairment or permanent total disability.

If the workers' compensation insurer agrees with the physician's determination concerning the impairment rating, it will file what is known as a Final Admission of Liability.

As implied by the name, the Final Admission of Liability is essentially a statement provided by the work comp insurer outlining 1) the amount heretofore paid for work comp benefits and 2) the amount of work comp benefits it's planning to remit to the injured worker going forward.

If the work comp insurer agrees to pay work comp benefits going forward, they will be paid on a weekly basis with the amount dependent upon the date of the work injury and the duration dependent upon the total amount owed in accordance with state law.

In the event an injured worker disagrees with the calculations reached in the Final Admission of Liability, it's important for them to understand that they have options. However, it's also important for them to understand that time is of the essence.

Specifically, they must submit either the Objection to Final Admission form (which should be included with the Final Admission of Liability), or a letter expressing their objections to both the Colorado Division of Workers' Compensation and the insurer within 30 days. Failure to do so can result in the automatic closure of their case.

As if this wasn't confusing enough, there are additional forms that must be filed along with this objection if they disagree with 1) the date of the Maximum Medical Improvement -- MMI -- or 2) the physician's impairment rating, and would like an Independent Medical Examination.

We'll continue this discussion in future posts …

What all of this underscores is that the process of securing work comp benefits can frequently prove to be confusing and overwhelming. As such, injured workers should seriously consider consulting with a skilled legal professional who can handle all of these important matters while they focus on recovering.

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