• The Problem with Zero Percent Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) Ratings

    The Problem with Zero Percent Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) RatingsIndiana Worker’s Compensation law requires that the employer to ask the attending physician for an opinion as to whether a work-related injury has resulted in a permanent loss of physical function. The attending physician will sometimes respond by indicating that there is a 0% permanent partial impairment (PPI). That response is the equivalent of an opinion that there has been no permanent loss of function.  

    The employee has the right to an alternative opinion as to the permanent loss issue from a doctor of his own choosing at his own expense.  If the employee’s doctor finds a permanent loss of function and assigns a PPI rating for that loss, then a dispute as to the existence and extent of the permanent injury exists. The usual practice is to agree to a split of the ratings in a resolution of the impairment dispute.

    If the employer is unwilling to consider the employee’s alternative PPI rating, then the Worker’s Compensation Board will evaluate the evidence and make a determination. The first question for the Board’s determination is whether there has been a permanent loss of physical function. If the Board finds that there has been a permanent loss of physical function, then the second question for the Board’s determination is the proper amount of PPI to be awarded.  

    If the Board determines that there has, in fact, been a permanent loss of physical function despite the attending physician’s 0% PPI opinion, then the employer is at an evidentiary disadvantage as to the second question; the amount of PPI to be awarded. This is because the only evidence as to the amount of the PPI sustained is the employee’s alternative PPI rating. While a 0% PPI rating may be evidence that there has been no permanent loss of physical function, it is not evidence as to the amount of PPI to be awarded if the Board finds that there has been a permanent loss of physical function.  

    Leave a Reply