The AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (Guides) is a well-known standard for quantifying the medical loss associated with an injury or illness. Delaware’s workers’ compensation system uses the fifth edition of the AMA Guides Edition of the American Medical Association (AMA) Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. The rating for impairment can be found in Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation Act, 19 Del. C. § 2326.
Section 2326 of the statute contains a schedule of weeks for a 100% loss to certain body parts. Unscheduled losses are subject to a maximum number of 300 weeks. The presumption for permanent partial impairment is that there is adverse effect on the earning capacity based on a reduction of function of the injured body part and the compensation/benefits for the impairment is supposed to be compensating for the diminished earning capacity.
The applicable compensation rate is fixed when the claimant is at maximum medical improvement. This is usually one year after the accident or one year post surgery. If the employee was at the maximum or minimum rate at the time of his injury he may be entitled to an increased rate for permanent impairment and disfigurement benefits.