Last May I was working construction as a pipefitter up in Tacoma. I stood up under a scaffold bar I didn't see and knocked myself out. Immediately started having shooting pains in shoulder and right arm. Pinched nerve. Through Washington State L&I, I had surgery, titanium plate put between C6 and C7 vertebrae. Pain went away. Since then I've had troubles breathing. I was sent to swallowing specialist and am now scheduled to see asthma specialist. I'm afraid no-one knows what is really wrong and I'll just be thrown out and not fixed. I've told L&I that I think more happened at time of accident than just the pinched nerve. I'm nervous. And ideas or comments would greatly be appreciated. Thank you
You are not alone. Many injured workers worry that L&I wont take care of them and will shut down care prematurely. The system was intended to give injured workers like you all the reasonable and necessary care you need to recover. Sometimes that means finding the doctors who have the answers and sometimes it means fighting IMEs who say your fine when your are not. The system today is geared to limit care. If you need care, dont wait and hope it will be given. Go get it. You have many option that include having your doctor make a referral to another specialist and asking for her to put in her notes that you are not done with care and need more. Avoid IMEs. It may also be a good time to seek out a attorney who focuses on workers comp. I wish you well and hope you get all that you need.
If you haven't filed a formal worker's compensation claim, do so immediately. You have a complicated medical picture and should really find local counsel for a claim that may stretch on for years.
My firm is very experienced in these matters and it is my advice that you should hire an attorney immediately. You have a lot at stake. When the source of symptoms seems unclear, it can definitely cause problems for injured workers. As you fear, it can be all too easy for L&I to avoid responsibility. But you have had a major injury and surgery and it seems very likely your breathing issues are related. An aggressive attorney would immediately schedule conferences with your physicians to try to establish the relationship of your current problems to the work injury. Being proactive makes it less likely the medical condition will be disallowed. Delaying pinning this down will make it more likely that you will encounter problems, Your significant injury also jeopardizes your ability to perform your normal occupation. A good worker's compensation attorney would help ensure that you either receive vocational services or maximum compensation to make sure you are not left in a poor position due to this work injury. Finally, the details of your accident are unclear, but on construction sites there are often multiple factors that cause an injury. If someone other than your employer created any hazard that contributed to your injury, there may be a separate insurance claim you could make that would provide additional compensation above what is provided by L&I. An atorney knowledgeable about construction site injury claims could explore this for you to make sure you are not missing out on potential compensation. Good luck. Let us know if we can help.
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