I looked at a very interesting award calculator devised by a Maryland attorney based on his review of thousands of work comp awards in Maryland. It asks the injured worker to put a number from 1 though 10 on the level of pain and interference with activities for their injury,r the average weekly wage, and how long the injured worker was off work. It does not ask for the injured worker’s age. Byron Warnken, the author the website with this calculator, tells me that it is very good at roughly predicting what a client will receive for an award. The link to his website and calculator is http://www.mdcomplaw.com/.
When I plugged in information for a fictional injured worker with a low back injury making $500 a week with a moderate level of pain and disability (number 5 on the calculator), the award came back at $18,500. I then ran the numbers with a 5% impairment, using Nevada law statutes and regulations on calculating permanent partial disability awards. The probable award was much less, in the $7500 to $11,500 range, depending on the injured worker’s age. However, it is an interesting tool, and Attorney Warnken does caution injured workers that their actual projected award could be much greater or much less depending on a number of other factors .
There are some injuries that are very easy for me to predict the PPD award, once I know the average monthly wage, the chronological age of the injured worker, and the probable percentage of impairment. However, the PPD award for most serious injuries cannot be predicted with a high degree of accuracy without the attorney knowing what objective diagnostic tests show, the operations performed on the injured body parts, what additional diagnostic tests were done, and what residual problems the injured worker is having. I usually need a lot more information than Attorney Warnken’s calculator to predict a probable award.
Once you give a client a dollar figure at an initial consultation, the client invariably feels disappointed with the attorney if the client hires the attorney based on an expectation of getting that dollar figure and if the actual rating results in a lower award. I don’t mind discussing the range of percentage for similar injuries and some of the factors the AMA Guides want the rating doctor to take into account when calculating the whole person percentage. I like my clients to be educated about the process and encourage questions. If I can give a realistic percentage of impairment that I would expect at the end of the case, I will give that information to an injured worker during a free consultation with me. Likewise, if I think it will be misleading to the client and create unrealistic expectations for a large settlement, I won’t attempt to give a dollar figure.