Neck and Back Impairment Ratings

Standard

If you have a Texas Workers’ Comp claim for injuries to your neck or back, eventually you will be found at maximum medical improvement and receive an impairment rating. To calculate impairment ratings, the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation requires doctors to use the Fourth Edition of the AMA Guides To Permanent Impairments. Spinal impairments are rated per a Diagnosis-Related Estimates (DRE Model). There are eight category levels of spinal impairments. The greater the category of the DRE, the higher the percentage of the whole body impairment rating. DRE CAT I: This category is used for injuries that only manifest as complaints or symptoms. The level provides a 0% impairment rating. DRE CAT II: Clinical signs of an injury are present without radiculopathy or loss of motion segment integrity. This level provides for a 5% impairment rating. DRC CAT III: Evidence of radiculopathy is present. * At this level a cervical impairment is 15%, while a lumbar or thoracic impairment is a 10%. DRE CAT IV: Loss of motion segment integrity or multilevel neurologic compromise. Cervical injuries provide at 25% impairment rating and lumbar/thoracic receive a 20% impairment rating. The higher categories require greater levels of impairment. You should always consult with your doctor and an attorney for your work related injury. Spinal injuries have many pitfalls that should not be pursued without expert medical and legal advice. At the Morris Law Firm (www.themorrifirm.net) , we’ve been handling work injuries since 1996. Call our Dallas office at (214)357-1782. * The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation has added the additional requirement of a loss arm or leg reflexes or atrophy of at least 2 cm above the knee or elbow on the affected side to establish radiculopathy.

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