I have been released by the workers’ compensation doctor, and I am back to work full time. I had a fairly serious injury, and my employer paid me for my medical bills and paid my checks while I was out of work. Is that all I am going to be entitled to?

If you sustained a serious injury, you may be entitled to additional funds, particularly if your physician has given you a permanent partial impairment (PPI) rating. (see the next question and answer for an explanation of the significance of a permanency rating).

Even if your physician has not given you a percentage permanent partial impairment (PPI) rating on your injured body part(s), some physicians simply do not like to give an opinion in that regard.

In such a circumstance, you would be entitled to a special “ratings only” Independent Medical Examination, (IME) at the Compensation Carrier’s expense, to determine whether you have sustained a permanent disability. Under the new 2011 law, this is with a doctor of your choice in North Carolina. There is no agreement required on a “ratings only” exam. It is completely your choice.

However, we would not recommend a “ratings only” exam unless it is 100% clear that you need no further treatment whatsoever for your injuries and you are cured and having no further symptoms.

If that is not the case, it is better to engage in a full Independent Medical Examination, (IME) because the “ratings only” doctor is really not permitted to get into issues beyond the rating, such as the nature of any future medical treatment or other recommendations. Even if they do state such opinions in his or her report, the law states that the Commission should not pay attention to what the “ratings only” doctor has to say on any issues outside of the rating.

Both types of IME examinations can be helpful in providing information that could facilitate a settlement of your case.

If that is something you are interested in, you should call us at 1-888-694-1671.