I have an interesting question for you:
I have been dealing with an injury that I suffered at work for about 2 years 4 months. I fractured a rib in my back area and have sense been dealing with Chronic Back Pain. I have tried everything possible to eleviate the pain, however I have not been successful. My doctors have sent me to Physical Therpay, Acupuncture, Electric Stimulation, Message therapy, pain managment, and to the chiropractor. in my almost 2 1/2 year problem. The treating doctor has finally said that my problem has now become a permanent injury and the orthodpedic also told me the problem that I have has now become chronic. The orthopedic doctor stated due to the amount of time that I have been treated for this injury that I would have to go back to a workmens' comp doctor to be re-evaluated. He said that the workmans comp doctor would most likely give me a permanent & stationary evaluation at this point, and that most likely he would not rule over the treating physicans determination.
I think what I am worried about is the fact that this is a company doctor and I have not heard good things about the ruling that they usually have against the employee. What is your take on what I can expect?
Hi MarK and thanks for writing,
I would consult with a Labor Lawyer; I always recommend people at least consult with a lawyer experienced in WCB cases, even if you don't want them involved in the negotiations just to protect yourself and make sure you're aware of all your rights.
When you look at settling, the things you'll want to consider are:
-lost wages during your time off,
-any expenses you incurred due to the injury (Physician visits, Chiropractors, Physio Therapists, Transportation to/from any of the above; Medical Supplies like bandages, braces, crutches, pain medication including pills and ointments; Fees for filling out forms for you or from the doctors); Postage and/or Fax expenses,
-any lost benefits (Vacation Days, Stat Holidays or Stat Pay, Medical-Dental coverage, etc),
-Pain & Suffering (although this may be harder to prove and may be impossible to get without a lawyer – this is usually reserved for severe injuries where the employer can be proved to be liable).
Unfortunately Worker's Comp is like all other Insurance Companies - it is in THEIR best interest to drag things out as long as possible, and usually they hold most of the cards and have the laws on their side. Sadly, this can cost people their jobs, and sometimes their families due to the stress associated with lingering pain and other disabilities; the financial and/or emotional drain can be too much for some people. 60 Minutes did a show a few years back where large insurance company executives admitted there is an unwritten rule to deny most claims initially as they know a good percentage will just give up and not fight the claim.
It is important to be sure you do everything correctly during your claim period and you don't want to miss out on any payments you may be entitled to now or in the future, so I advise that you consult with a lawyer who does WCB cases and find out exactly what your options are, and what you need to do in your state to cover yourself (WCB regulations do vary state to state).
Dealing with WC is one of the most frustrating things we have to do, like most big insurance companies, their number one interest is guarding their own money. I always find it's best to do a little brown-nosing when talking to those people and ask "how can we make this a win-win for both of us and how would you like me to proceed" etc...
Most States have Lawyer Referral Services which will give you the name of a few local lawyers who specialize in your area of concern (Labor Law) and you can usually get an appointment to meet with them for 30 minutes for a nominal fee. You could go and ask some basic questions, exactly like you asked me and hopefully s/he can give you some advice and possibly some resources to help you.
I hope this helps, it may feel like you're constantly hitting a brick wall, but perseverance is necessary whenever you deal with them.
All the best,