I get calls frequently from unrepresented injured workers who have been "rated and released" by their treating physicians. The term "rated and released" means that the worker has reached "MMI" (maximum medical improvement) and the doctor has provided a "permanent partial disability rating" and released the patient from treatment, either with or without work restrictions. Under the NC Workers' Compensation Act, and specifically NC General Statute section 97-31, that rating--expressed as a percentage of a body part--translates into a certain amount of money for the patient, based on the body part, percentage assigned, and the compensation rate in the case. For example, a broken wrist with a healed ORIF may result in a PPD rating of 15%, which would be 15% of the "hand" (the "hand" is everything distal to the elbow, down to the fingers). The hand is a 200 week body part, so 15% of the hand is worth 200 x .15 = 30 weeks of the compensation rate. A worker who made $600 per week in gross pay before the injury would have a compensation rate of $400. Using that comp rate, a 15% to the hand would be worth 30 times $400, which equals $12,000, paid out (after Industrial Commission approval) over the 30 weeks that immediately follow the rating and release date. The injured worker also has the right to get a second opinion on the percentage amount of the PPD rating.
An injured worker is entitled to represent himself in court or in a workers' comp claim in North Carolina. Is it a good idea?
Bob Bollinger is pleased to announce that he has become a Certified Superior Court Mediator. His certification by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission became effective in late August. Bob took the 40 hour mediator training course taught by mediation expert Andy Little of Mediation, Inc. http://www.mediationincnc.com/ It was an outstanding training course and Bob learned a lot about the mediation and negotiation processes.