One of the “magic phrases” is permanent disability.

Plaintiff attorneys love it, and defense attorneys fear it. It must be remembers that disability, temporary or permanent, depends on impairment.

The word “impairment” is new in the discussion of soft tissue injuries but should be used more often, especially when dealing with unscheduled disabilities and with injuries where there is significant pain and suffering in the relative absence of demonstrable objective findings.

The word “impairment” is much more acceptable to the conservative medical community, is easier to describe, understand, and evaluate in terms of functional loss.

Permanent impairment essentially means the same as permanent disability, in that it is: “The final condition resulting, which is the doctor’s judgment and experience was caused by the injury, and has improved all that is going to improve.”

In discussing impairment, the doctor may not be an advocate for either side, but should be asked to evaluate the individual findings previously outlined using the new definitions as a guide.

The treating physician should discuss impairments (i.e. disabilities) as they relate to the following:

  1. Vocation Loss

  2. Cosmetic Loss

  3. Anatomic Loss

  4. Earning Capacity Loss

  5. Other Adverse Influences

  6. Functional Loss