What does Impairment mean?
Impairment is an abnormality which causes a loss of function in a body system, body organ, or any part of the body. Loss of function can be partial or total and permanent or temporary.
Workers' compensation impairments after a work-related injury are further differentiated into categories depending on the type and duration of the injury and resulting impairment. The categories include permanent partial disabilities, permanent total disabilities, temporary partial disabilities, and temporary total disabilities.
Permanent partial disabilities or impairments are those which are permanent but do not completely eliminate the worker's ability to work. For example, if you are injured and can no longer lift more than 20 pounds or stand for more than eight hours you may be limited in the work you can perform and you may not be able to work your previous job, but you may be able to retrain for some type of new work. If, however, your impairment lowers the amount of compensation you can receive for future work you may receive permanent partial disability payments.
A total and permanent impairment is an impairment that lasts after an injured worker has reached their maximum medical improvement but continues to cause limitations which will not allow the worker to return to work. In this case the worker may receive compensation for their loss of future wages.
Workers who are injured and have a temporary partial or temporary total disability or impairment may receive compensation for a limited period of time to compensate them for any lost wages.
Impairments and the settlement offer
Before accepting any compensation or settlement offer for your impairments you need to ensure you will receive all necessary compensation for your injuries. This is especially true if you are waiving your right to future medical compensation. Work compensation laws are complicated and unless your permanent disability is rated 10% or less, you should strongly consider speaking to a lawyer.