Let’s All Get a Grip on Grip Loss
Gregory Grinberg, Esq.
San Mateo, California
It doesn’t take long for practitioners new to the field of California workers’ compensation law to realize that there are constant arguments on just about every point. Did the employer make a valid offer of regular, modified, or alternative work? Was utilization review timely? How should the average weekly wages be calculated?
One of the substantive areas of workers’ compensation that sees a sizeable amount of sparring between applicant and defense attorneys is the use of grip loss in rating whole person impairment. The American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition (AMA Guides) allow for rating loss of grip strength in certain narrow circumstances, but the Almaraz/Guzman line of cases (Guzman III) has drastically expanded that narrow scope, leading to significant factual and legal disputes about when and how the sections on rating grip loss can be used. Because there is little binding authority on the subject, the landscape is rich with different opinions and results, and there is no shortage of things to keep in mind when evaluating the merits of cases involving alleged loss of grip strength.