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Worker`s Compensation/I don't Know What To DO....Im going to lose my job.....Please Help!


My story begins in 2011 when I was injured at work and was taken to urgent care and was diagnosed with a thoracic sprain/strain as well as a rib that popped out.  I was referred to physical therapy and a chiropractor, so that they can try and munipulate the rib back into place.  After a few visits to the chiropractor the pain to my back seemed to be getting worse and at one point the chiropractor had me bite down on a hand towel, because of the adjustment that he was about to do.  

After 3 weeks being placed on light duty, I was released to full duty even after I was still in pain.  I agreed to go back to work on full duty and about 1 1/2 months later I re-injured the same part of my back at work and was told by my supervisor to drive to  urgent care.  I was given another full exam and was told that I re-aggravated the same part of my back and that my rib popped out.  I then decided to get a second opinion at Kaiser where they noticed a huge bulge on my back.  I was taken to get x-rays and was called the same day where they told me that I had a "closed fracture" of my rib at the T6 level.  

I then contacted my workman's compensation adjuster and informed her of the finding.  She then started asking me how I ended up with a fractured rib if my diagnosis that I had was a sprained back.  She then asked if I had been in any car accidents or if I had fallen during that period of time.  I had told her that I had not been in any kind of accident.  The only explanation that I had was the treatment that I was getting from the chiropractor and also told her about him having me bite down on a hand towel while he tried to manipulate my rib into place.

My workman's compensation case was then transferred to Kaiser workman's compensation where I was being treated and also sent for physical therapy. I was told by the treating doctor that I should heal within about 6 weeks, but the pain in my back never went away even after 6 visits to physical therapy.  In early December 2011 the treating physician asked me if I was still in pain and I had told him that it felt like I have not healed at all, which is when he told me that I was now dealing with chronic back pain.  On December 23 2011 I was called by the treating doctor and he told me that my workman's compensation adjuster called him and instructed him that I was not to see him anymore.  All my doctors appointments were canceled at this point and I did not see any doctors until June 2012.

June 2012, I was sent to another workman's compensation doctor were I was sent to get an MRI of my thorasic and lumbar spine.  The MRI showed nothing unusal in the thorasic spine and the lumbar spine showed what I was told as normal findings.  L2-L3 1mm bulge,L3-4 1mm bulge,L4-L5 1mm bulge,L5-S1 2mm bulge and L2,L3,L4 minimal bone spur formations all of which I was told was normal.  I explained to the doctor that I was experiencing really bad pain almost like stabbing pain in my back, but was told to take advil and tylenol and that I would be fine.  I was then told to get a second opinion because of the fact that I did not agree with his decision.

I got a second opinion on August 1, 2012 at Kaiser once again and was taken off of work completely.  I was diagnosed with chronic low back pain and was also referred to an orthopedic specialist at Kaiser.  I was diagnosed with Chronic Muscularskeletal Pain by the orthopedic specialist and was placed on modified duty.  I was told by my work location that they would not accomidate my light duty and was told to go home on disability.  

I was on disability from August 1, 2012 through April 8, 2013. My disability was being handled by the company's own insurance company and was sent to an IME that was requested by the insurance company and my employer.  2 of the 3 doctors that did the report on the IME stated that I had chronic lumbrosacral pain, however they were unable to determine what they cause was and was told that based on the report that I did not need any restrictions.  During this time I have been on modified duty without any gaps.

I was called on April 8, 2013 and was told by my supervisor that I was to report to work on full duty.  I informed him that I was still under the care of my doctor and still on modified duty, but he stated that since the IME that was done by the insurance company stated that I did not need any restrictions that my treating doctors medical work status report was no longer valid.

April 9, 2013, I had a meeting with my supervisor where I presented him with my medical work status report where the treating doctor stated I was not to climb any utility poles with my chronic back pain condition that I was dealing with.  He also mentioned that I be allowed into the company sponsered "return to work" program, which is a program that allows injured works to be assisted in finding another job within the company.  I was told that because my doctor stated that I could no longer climb utility poles that I would have to be removed from my apprentice program.  He then said "your doctor is saying you can't climb anymore, now I need to hear you say that you can no longer do the work".  I explained to him that I could not do the work medically.  He said that I would have to be removed from the program under a "voluntary basis", but I asked about the work status report that I had and he said that the IME report was over my treating physican's document.  He also stated that becuase of the position that I hold does not allow me in the "return to work" program and that I would have to remove myself anyways voluntairly.

I have been placed on a 60-60 program in the company.  I was allowed to stay on company property for 60 days while getting paid and the next 60 days off company property without pay, however I am given the opportunity to find work within the company between that time limit.  After those last 60 days if I am unable to find a job I will be terminated.

FIRST:   FYI, you'll get 100% faster answer with much, much less detail and a direct question.

The company has no obligation to make a special job for you, if that is your question.

The Workers Compensation PERMANENT DISABILITY indemnity will be increased by 15% when the MPN physician writes you reach Maximum Medical Improvement and are permanently restricted from assuming all pre-injury job duties.

You'll get a $4,000 or $6,000 "Voucher" payable ONLY TO A SCHOOL, not to you, for job retraining AFTER the company sends word there is no alternative work for you.

When you are terminated, you can apply for State Unemployment Benefits...but don't tell Unemployment you are 'disabled' because you'll be denied... and you are NOT 100% permanently disabled, you are only partially disabled (and all workers are a little partially disabled unless you're 19 and in perfect condition).

Your most serious error was deciding to stumble through without a certified specialist in workers compensation... they only get 15% of the final recovery at the close of the case, nothing out-of-pocket until the very end, and if you insisted, there would have been a physician who would write you can resume climbing poles.

But you can't 'unring' the bell.   now that a physician has written you can no longer climb poles, you're stuck with that.

I'd suggest you hire an attorney to get medical evidence to maximize your dollar recover in Workers Comp, to get you the most money possible to live on while you're job hunting, and start looking for work...both within the company and elsewhere.  

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Nancy Wallace


California injured workers employed by state and private agencies (NOT federal employees) regarding On-The-Job injuries, disability payments, and terminations from being injured on the job (work-related wrongful terminations).


20+ years in California Workers Compensation law practice in California. Certified Specialist, Workers' Compensation, Board of Legal Specialization, State Bar of California

California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization

Editor, Western State University College of Law newspaper

J.D., Western State University College of Law B.S., cum laude, Cal Poly Pomona

Past/Present Clients
Senior adjuster for one county sent me her husband when they needed caring representation. The injured Employment Development Dept. hearing representative -- who see all applicant's attorneys in the region -- hired me when she got hurt on the job. A Fire Department Chief in Orange County came all the way to San Bernardino for my representation.

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