Alvin is our injured worker. Alvin loses part of his little finger at work in August of 2009. Alvin finishes his medical care, returns to work, and is sent by his claims manager to an IME for a rating. The IME doctor concludes Alvin has lost 50% of his little finger. The claims manager goes to the WAC PPD schedule in effect for August 09 and sees that a little finger in 2009 has a PPD impairment value of $4,897.35. 50% of that is $2,448.67. The claims manager closes Alvin’s claim by order, and sends Alvin a check for $2,448.67.
Was it fair that Alvin lost half a finger and got $2,448.67? You decide; but think about this. What about two different Alvins? What if Alvin the Brut is a pro football lineman and doesn’t need his finger. – Fair? What if Alvin the Virtuoso is a concert pianist who needs this finger but now because he lost his finger he can no longer work at the job he’d practiced all his life for. Is that fair? Understand this: the L&I PPD system doesn’t care who you are, a 50% little finger PPD is the same for everyone; it doesn’t matter how much the injury affects you.
Does it make any difference if football Alvin was at fault for stupidly injuring his finger in a careless drunken post game celebration when he broke a bottle of champagne over his head and cut his finger? What if pianist Alvin lost his finger through no fault of his own, when his employer dropped the grand piano cover on his finger? They both get the same amount. Fault doesn’t matter, because L&I is a no fault system.
So how do you and Alvin the piano player get a fair PPD settlement? Alvin hires a sharpe L&I lawyer who gets a better PPD rating by sending Alvin to a real doctor for thoughtful and accurate finger rating of 90%. Sharpe lawyer also recognizes Alvin’s depression over losing his finger and his job. Alvin gets mental health treatment for depression and a category III rating, worth $45,346.55. Alvin also is advised to take advantage of vocational rehabilitation and is trained in a new career as a band leader. Happy ending , or at least fair, considering the constraints of the system.
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