The term "impairment" has different meanings in different contexts which is why some people get confused when it is applied to workers' compensation cases. There's a thin line between impairment and permanent or partial disability when an injury occurs on the job.
Here are details on understanding the differences between impairment and disability and how to approach the situation should either scenario happen during your employment.
Impairment vs. Disability
The American Medical Association (AMA) gives different versions of the term "impairment," which in some cases reflects permanent injuries. It can also mean a decline in health, disorder, or disease that is far from the norm which requires an objective judgment.
Disability, on the other hand, is a different concept because it compares a person's abilities with job requirements. It's possible for two people to suffer from the same impairment without both individuals qualifying for disability. The main test is that the impairment must affect the person's work.
What Experts Say
A significant loss in body structure or function is a defining factor for impairment, according to AMA Guidelines. This definition includes major deviations in health conditions such as disorder or disease. Disability, however, as defined by AMA Guidelines, relates to health conditions that present limitations or restrictions in activity. The severity of health conditions relating to inability to perform activities of daily living (ADL) is measured by the AMA's consensus-driven impairment rating. ADL includes eating, dressing, and hygiene.
While the lines may seem blurred between impairment and disability, a worker's comp lawyer who heads an experienced legal team can help deliver the best settlement for your claim. When it comes to worker's comp cases, it is essential to choose a team with a proven track record of success.