Claim Workers' Comp AND Keep Your Job!
The day your are injured...1. Put your injured body parts (all injuries, not just the worst one) IN WRITING, that you request to be seen by the Comp Doctor immediately
2. MAKE A COPY OF YOUR NOTE
3. If you can fax the note and get a Fax Transmission Confirmation Report page, get a Fax Confirmation and keep it. You might have to show it to a Judge someday.
When you see the Company Doctor...1. Explain you cannot work and take heavy pain medication, so you need Pain Killers that permit you to drive and work during the day, plus stronger Pain Killers to sleep well at night.
2. Explain you want to go back to work and use the body parts that aren't injured.
3. Insist the doctor write the specific tasks you must avoid, such as "no standing more than 5 minutes" or "no twisting at the waist" or "no walking/weight-bearing more than 10 minutes"
4. "Light Duty" isn't clear and will lead to fighting; warn the doctor you will be in the office the next morning if he only writes "Light Duty" with no specifics.
5. Don't leave the doctor's office without your Work Status report form.
When you leave the Company Doctor...1. Ask the doctor's office to fax it to your employer and GET A COPY OF THE FAX TRANSMISSION confirmation.
2. Rush the Work Status report form to your Supervisor or Human Resources officer; go in person the same day you saw the employer's doctor...don't wait a day or two. Waiting could get you fired for abandoning your job.
When you get to your Employer...1. Visit the Company and get the work assignment for the day or the next day confirmed; see if you can get the assignment in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.
2. If you are told there is no Modified Work or No Light Duty, get the name and number of the Workers' Compensation Insurance adjuster on your claim... JUST SIT AND WAIT until you can get the Comp Adjuster's name and number before you go. (This generally forces the employer to report the claim to the Comp Carrier that hour instead of a week later.)
If you are refused Light Duty or Modified Work...1. If you are ordered back to all duties of your job against the Doctor's Orders, pull out a copy of the Work Status Report form for the Supervisor when you are directed to stand or lift violating doctor's orders; show that to the supervisor.
2. If you show the Work Status Report to the Supervisor and are STILL ordered to perform a task violating the doctor's instructions, you can REQUEST A RETURN TRIP TO THAT DOCTOR.
3. If you really need that job, you can return to the Workers' Comp physician and request a SHORT TRIAL of full duty work -- just for 4 days -- to see if your injured joint can perform adequately. Ask the doctor just to go to full duty for 4 days with a return appointment in 5 days to report to the doctor whether the injured body part is worse or better with full duty work. [Avoid having the doctor return you permanently to Full Duty without knowing if you can cut it.]
4. If you just can't work or are sent home, call the Comp Insurance Adjuster.
If you're stuck at home with no paycheck...1. Get the fax number for your Workers' Comp Insurance adjuster.
2. FAX your Adjuster with a SHORT note that the employer was unable (or refused) to put you to Modified Work and you must now have Temporary Disability checks effective immediately.
3. Add in (if appropriate) that you know you can do a Modified Duty job and would prefer to work Modified Duty, and would appreciate the adjuster encouraging the employer to create the Modified Work as soon as possible.
4. Apply for State Disability Insurance for income until the Insurer sends the first Temporary Disability Check.
Remind the Doctor you need to rush back to work...1. Don't do months of therapy... if therapy isn't making a great difference after 10 days, stop the therapy and insist on seeing the doctor right away (don't stay home six weeks doing nothing).
2. Remind the doctor you want to return to Modified Duty and need a Modified Duty assignment so you can return to some form of work ASAP.
3. Fax and write and visit the doctor twice per day if you are told you can't move forward in care because a procedure isn't being authorized... don't sit home for a month waiting for a call on an MRI.
4. INSIST on confirmation that written requests for tests and medications and treatment procedures have been delivered to the adjuster...don't rely on a clerk claiming that the authorization has been requested. Let the Doctor know that if you cannot get a copy of a written request for each treatment procedure that you will get a new doctor who will. GET THAT REQUEST IN WRITING, or get a new doctor.
Keep in Touch with your Employer throughout the process...1. Confirm that all Off Work Orders and Work Status Reports make it into the hands of the employer; you can be fired for abandoning your job if you don't inform your employer of your whereabouts. NEVER ASSUME A COMPANY DOCTOR IS PROPERLY INFORMING YOUR COMPANY OF YOUR DISABILITY STATUS.
2. Get a clear number of days that you can either be off work at home or on Modified Duty before you pre-injury job is filled by another. GET IT IN WRITING. Have a HR Staffer circle the paragraphs of the Employee Handbook for you, if need be.
3. Mark the dates on the calendar; don't presume the employer will keep your job open for you indefinitely.
4. Be clear with the Treating Physician he WILL return you to a TRIAL of Regular Work for 2 weeks by (or before) the deadline. Where the Employer has you on Regular Work for a 2-weeks trial period, it is very unlikely to fill your position while you are working in it.
Do a Reality Check.If you lifted all day for a living, and you ruptured disc such that should never lift all day again, it is unrealistic to think you are going to continue in that job.
You have no 'right' to keep a job you can no longer perform. Employers have no obligation to make special jobs for people hurt on the job.
Instead of spending time and energy to keep a job your body can never do safely, spend time on developing new skills or a home business while you recover ... fight the fight you can win.