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The Importance of a Physical Exam in Your CA Permanent Disability Case

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If you’ve been reading our articles on disability, you probably know that the American Medical Association (AMA) guides are usually not a fair way to measure a person’s disability. For one thing, the guides focus on the effect your injury has on activities of daily living (ADLs), and then average that rating against a doctor’s “whole person impairment” rating done in a physical exam. As you can imagine, this can make for some inaccurate results.

The AMA guides rate your CA permanent disability case by the following ADLs:

  • Self-care – How you proceed with personal hygiene, using the bathroom independently, bathing, brushing teeth, combing hair, and the ability to feed and dress yourself.
  • Communication – These activities include speaking, writing, typing, or any other methods of making yourself understood.
  • Physical activities – such as standing, sitting, lying down, walking, climbing stairs and getting yourself out of a stationary position.
  • Sensory function – Sight, hearing, taste, smell and tactile (feeling) abilities should be assessed.
  • Basic hand functions – These are non-specialized movements such as grasping, heat and cold sensitivity, lifting, objects, and sensory capabilities of the hand and fingers.
  • Travel abilities – Include driving, riding in a vehicle for long periods, and flying.
  • Sexual function – Any difficulty with orgasm, erection, or lubrication could affect your daily living abilities.
  • Sleeping – Doctors should note any disturbance in your sleep that does not indicate a restful, nocturnal sleep pattern.


It’s easy to see how you could be deemed more functional “on paper” than you are in real life. Thankfully, an experienced California disability attorney knows that there are exceptions to the rules. A physician may be brought in to assess “functional loss” in your case, getting a more accurate description of your impairment rather than taking a straight reading of the Guides. Find out more tips on getting maximum disability payments in our FREE book, The Northern California Workers’ Compensation Survival Manual.


Category: Worker's Compensation

Thomas Ledgerwood
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Proprietor Ledgerwood Law Group

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