September 3, 2014

What Can I Do if the Company Doctor Returns Me to Work But I am Still in Severe Pain?

I have worked for my employer for 20 years. Due to the type of extreme work that I did, over a period of time I damaged my spine and was told I had  2 herniated discs, one in my neck, the other in my lower back. Both areas also have bone spurs.

The first WC Dr. I went to told me I had a pulled muscle and sent me back to work Full duty. I had an MRI, which clearly showed the damage, but this Dr. chose to withold the results from me and off I went to work!   Knowing I could not perform my job, but under the threat of termination, I did as instructed. I could not stay the day and left, got another WC Dr. and when he saw the MRI, he told me about the damage.

I eventually had surgery on my lower back which has not helped very much and another MRI revealed that the disc is still slightly bulging hence the pain I feel daily. The “well known” surgeon, has chosen to release me to work on light duty and has changed his mind about my neck. Apparently he has decided that it is due to “age” (I am 45). He refuses to treat my neck and has become defensive and evasive in my dealings with him. It is like all of a sudden he is done with my treatment even though I am only half way treated. I am in constant pain and cannot do anything!

By the way, my job was loading 8,000 pounds of freight a day, and this Dr. says it suddenly has nothing to do with 20 years of that! How can a Dr. turn on his patient like this? WC has been as unhelpful as they can be. I know the Dr. has been told by WC to end his treatment and get rid of me. What is my recourse? I am young, have a young family and can’t go on in this pain and do not feel that I deserve this lack of medical care.

–Darryl

Jodi Ginsberg responds:  Darryl, thanks for your question.  In many cases if you are terminated while involved in a workers comp case, the termination can actually help your case. If you are terminated for no justifiable reason (typical reasons we often see include “disobedience,” “company policy violation,” etc..) and you are on light duty or no work status then your case is actually enhanced because the insurance company no longer has the leverage of finding a light duty job for, after which they could cut off your temporary total disability benefits.

We sometimes see a situation where our client is on a light duty job that was created at the request of the insurance company, but the employer does not like the idea of having a non-productive employee hanging around and the employer ends up firing the injured worker.  In such a case the insurance company then has to start paying temporary total disability benefits again because the claimant is no longer working.

Where you potentially face a problem with your case is when you are returned to full duty work.  If you have been released to full duty and are subsequently fired, then you will most likely have to go to court (the State Board of Workers Compensation) to get your benefits started.

As you can see, your work status (full duty vs. light duty vs. no duty) is very important as is the timing of any termination.

At this point, it appears that you have been released to full duty, therefore you are exposed. There are several options here, including negotiating an agreement with the insurance company to refer you to a new treating physician, or filing for a Hearing to Change the Authorized Treating Physician, using your “claimant’s independent medical exam.”

Unfortunately you have discovered the truly unpleasant side of Georgia workers compensation.

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Jodi Ginsberg

Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.

Comments

  1. Ida Louise Thomas says:

    Hi I have the same situation as above. However Workercompt did not send me any paperwork for me to go back to work. The doctor sent me back the same day. How I have been ternimated from my job. I obtain legal help also, but I seem that this information I have learn here tell me that I have not be inform about my option from them. I receive a letter today that said that they need some medical information on the level of work I was sent back to work. They want to know If I was given any restriction on my job.
    From the information I gather from your website, I think they either don’t know anything or they are holding back. I have provided them information about my situation since last year. From the start I was told that worker compt don’t pay for pain and suffering. But I need to continue to go to the doctor and turn in a report for milage to receive a check for it. Now that I have loss my job, I feel loss. My lawer claim that they have written a demain letter for a settlement, and today I receive a letter that they need more information. I need some true advise.

  2. Injured worker says:

    First , I’d like to thank you for the comment box! Second, you did not address the bias/corrupt judges or the hired gun doctors who will say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you from a neurological point of view with out taking one nerve conduction test .. I have very hard questions for you ! But I doubt that you will answer them publicly on your site.

    So this is a challenge of your true concern for injured workers! Because most WC lawyers talk a good one and are afraid to really challenge the SYSTEM ! Why? Backlash maybe

    Sincerely your

    Pro Se

  3. Injured worker says:

    1st question to you seeing you have 18years experience !

    Do you know of any Judges that have been fired by the Board and allowed to resign for political reasons? If your answer is NO ! There is no reason to engage in any dialogue with me because either your lying as lawyers do for a living or your just not paying attention or don’t want to go on record stating facts !! Why ? As I said before Blackball/ backlash !

    Sincerely your

    Pro SE

  4. Injured worker says:

    2nd question If the Insurance Commissioner also worked for the SBWC would that be a conflict of interest ?

    Let me answer that for you ! OF COURSE NOT

    Sincerely yours

    Pro Se

  5. Injured worker says:

    Bad/Corrupt Judges are commonplace today in WC . One of the most serious mistakes you can make is assuming that you will recieve a fair trail from an impartial judge. The problem of corrupt judges is rampant in the WC. Instead of objectivity administering true justice, judges are ruling according to their personal biases and political allegiances. It is truly said that power corrupts. Nowhere is this more evident than with judges. Our constitution is based on “we the people” it is time to speak up , and make a change.. Corrupt judges are a serious threat to the fabric of society and it is your patriotic duty to tackle the problem with all the power at you disposal Lawyers !!

    Sincerely yours

    Pro Se

  6. What is the basis for your charge that “bad/corrupt judges are commonplace today in WC?” and that it is almost impossible to get a fair trial from an impartial judge?

    I can assure you that dedicated claimant’s lawyers take our role as advocates very seriously. There are plenty of publicity loving lawyers who would take on the establishment without a moment’s hesitation if there was any legitimate evidence (statistical or even anecdotal) to support corruption charges.

    I disagree with your premise.

  7. Tabatha Crafter says:

    How long do I have to wait until I can choose my own doctor for Workman’s Compensation? I went to see a doctor on the panel, but he refused to complete and x-ray on my back and sent me to work with no lifting as my restrictions. When can I askmy attorney permission to go to another doctor, not on panel? Can I choose my own doctor? What can I do about an employer wanting me to use my personal time to fill in for the days mised due to the injury?

  8. Michele Zimmerman says:

    I suppose my question is much like others. However I sure do need some comforting advice.I work in a hospital and had a patient fall and as we tried to catch him I twisted my knee.It began to hurt immediately but I was able to work at first.We only work 3/12 hour shifts per week so there are many times that I would be off for 4 days in a row which allowed me time to recoop with heating pad and many motrin.As time progressed I noticed that my knee pain worsened every week. I even tried to apply for 3 different positions within the hospital to get off my injured knee.I was never interviewed.Also an incident report was filed immediatley after the injury.I also had 3 licensed nurses in the room with me at the time of the accident.They are all willing to testify on my behalf.
    I began seeing a w/c dr. in January , roughly 4 1/2 months post injury.I had severe pain and swelling and it has only gotten worse.I limp all day every day.I hurt and I am in pain. After an MRI, x-ray and doppler the Dr. I was seeing says nothing is wrong.However I still have swelling and cannot walk without a limp. The hospital I work for suggested a 2nd opinion (a Dr. they chose) said I may have an ovarian cyst.After I stopped laughing they terminated my workers comp and because I was on light duty and could not do a complete 12 hour shift , my nurse manager said she didn’t have anything for me to do.So my HR manager told me if I didn’t return to work that they would assume I had resigned although on several occasions when I tried to go to work (only 6 hours, 3 days per week) the RN’s on the floor sent me home because the swelling in my leg is so obvious. Now they say I can’t prove that it happened at work.I am unable to pay my bills and my husband and I may not even make it through this.I have hired an attorney but They have never called me one time.I do all the calling. When I do talk to the paralegal all I get is “well, we are going to file a hearing because they won’t send us the panel of Dr’s.” I am getting no where.I hired this lawyer 2 months ago. I cannot even seek medical help because now I have no insurance or no Dr. to go to and no way to pay for it. They claim they are trying to reinstate my W/C but how long does that take? The law office also told me not to respond to the letters from my employer because they were just using scare tactics. Maybe so but atleast I still had some income and medical insurance.Now I feel as if I have been screwed by my employer and my lawyer. HELP!!!

  9. ifell off of a wobling ladder on feb 16 2008 hurt my right sholder and spine from the top of my sholders to just below the bottom of my sholders. i was put out of work and filled a cliam with w/c but do not have a lawer because i dont even get enough money on my w/c check to pay my bills. anyway back to my problome i have been sent to a spine spescialist and to a pian manegment doctor and the pain mgr DR. sent me back to work full duty. the second day back I got hurt and i wasnt even lifting anything just was on my knees reaching back in a rack to strighten it and my back poped twice and then i couldnt stand back up or walk. now my lower back hurts and my middle back hurts worse than ever and the pain DR is sending me right back to work. he called me a liar and told me he didnt like seeing people like me. now W/C want let me go back to see the spine spescialist, only the pain manegment doctor. I MEAN I DIDNT HURT MY PAIN I HURT MY BACK. i think they want let me go see the spine DR because he said that i shouldnt be working. Can you offer any advise for me please i dont want to keep hurting my self worse and worse

  10. Hello-
    The WC Judge denied the company’s Motion and then company motioned to reconsider then the judge granted the same motion to dismiss. Is this the norm? I have bee out of work since 9-9-009 and I thin my WC atty is on the companys side. He did not even want to add my wittness to my case. The same day of my 4th date for the wc formal hearing the Judge signed the recons motion to dismiss how is that?
    Should I fire my wc lawyer?

  11. INJURED WORKER says:

    i WAS INJURED ON MY JOB i AM A CERTIFIED NURSING ASST i BLEW DISC 4 AND5 TRANSFERRING A PARKINSONS PATIENT i DID THE REHAB i DID THE AQUA THERAPY MY THWRAPIST TOLD ME THAT IT WAS MY MUSCLES i AM IN CONSTANT PAIN ALL THE TIME NOW THE IME HAS ME RETURNING TO WORK FULL DUTY WITH NO RESTRICTIONS i WANT TO CRY i AM IN SO MUCH PAIN WHAT CAN I DO PLEASE SOME SEND ME A COMMENT

  12. I was on Workmans comp. And now they kicked me off because they said i refused light duty. Its been a month could i still go back now and be covered after my 12 wks of light duty are done? Also while im doing my light duty if i have a problem with my injury am i able to take time off that day of will that affect comp. Or once they kick a person off comp. does the employer have the right not to take u back ?

  13. I was injuried on the job. I am in homehealth care field. I was lifting a male cancer patient and did something to my neck and back. Have been going to spine specialist and PT for 3 months. Doctor told me yesterday I can return to work but can’t lift more than 10lbs. Well I dont have any patients that weight 10 lbs or less. When I said that to him he said to get my place of employment to give me another job that I can do. So as soon as I left the doctor I called my supervisor and she said that then I can not work doing my job I would not be able to come back. I ask about a office job I do have experience working in office as well. She said she would get back to me.
    I received a email from HR saying there are no jobs in the office and that I should go out on worker’s comp.
    I am confused about this because I have been getting WC for 3 months and thought if the doctor released me I would not get WC anymore. I live in GA and would like to know how does this WC in GA law work? What do I need to do? I sent the email that HR sent me to the WC person but wanted to ask someone that is not a part of all of this how long can I get WC and what do I need to do next? This is really a shock to me I thought I was going back to work but they feel with my job lifting the patients all the time that I could get hurt again.
    Please help!
    Thank you so much,
    P

  14. Steve, you raise several complicated issues that call for legal advice as opposed to a general response on a blog post. You need to speak to an attorney in your area about this return to work issue.

  15. Injured, if you have not yet contacted a lawyer in your area to assist you, you should do so immediately. Premature return to work releases are a tactic used by insurance companies to cut off benefits and reduce settlement values.

  16. david lyons says:

    i recived a certifeid letter from my employer firing me.i was injured on the job and i have 2 herniated disc and tears in them and nerve damage.i have not been released to return to work yet.i go see this wc doctors and see them on the most part 5 minutes or less.yet they write this big long letters saying they did all of this test.my question is can i be fired from my job and still not been released to go back to work.and is there anything i can do to this doctors who lie

  17. In Georgia, you can be fired even if you are injured and collecting workers comp. With regard to the doctor’s reports, the inconsistency between a 5 minute exam and a multi-page report might support a motion to change your authorized treating doctor. This would be an issue to discuss with your lawyer.

  18. Tony Antonio says:

    I have the same situation. I was treated by the company doctor for 2 months and on workmans comp and got laid off. Got MRI results ask him the results, no answer, told me that he is going to put me back to full duty to see if company has work for me. Workmans comp. cut me off. Checks got cut off, I called workmans comp why, He told me that Im back to full duty in doctors report.I got 3 kids to take care of, Im a single father. I panic got me a lawyer, I told the lawyer Im not sueing the company I just want to be back on treatment. So they sent me to another doctor and I found out I was up for surgery and it was on the report company doctors report. I went thru shoulder, elbow and carple tannel surgery for 2 years.
    Got settled and back to work with no restriction. Try to get my job back and my application been rejected. Supervisor comment: “AFTER YOU SUED THE COMPANY, YOU EXPECT THEM TO GIVE YOU YOUR JOB BACK ?”. Since then I can’t get a job in the shipyard even to the other sub contractors. Got so many calls, but after the background check never call back. i got 35 calls with in 8 months, all that call after checking never calls me back.
    For 18 years of experience now its all for nothing. Any Advice in the forrum.. thanks

  19. painfullyconfused says:

    I have been being treated by a group of doctors for 10 months now. All of a sudden the insurance has dropped all of them and set me an appointment with a doctor they have appointed. I went to see this doctor and he says there is nothing wrong and hes gonna put me back to work. I have previously had 3 epiderals neck/lumbar/shoulder, mri on same locations and pain meds.. this dr tells me to quit smoking, lose weight and get the shapeup shoes, exercise and quit taking pain meds.. i am not medically inclined but can clearly tell the issues from these tests{which he looked over and tossed to the side saying oh thats nothing} I have an attormey that i have really stressed out by this time.. should i insist on another dr and is it within my rights.. this is utterly ridiculous to tell me to stop my pain meds at this point i have already been told of 2 separate surgeries i am in need of…….help

  20. i was injured at work and tried to take care of it with my own health insurance.but the injury was more serious than i knew .i cant remember the exact date because the injury started to show effects 2 weeks after .will this be a problem,or can i report approximate date .the company says they dont have my daily employee work sheet that we do every day of each employees daily activities i was told they dont save them but i work in the fuel distribution field and i think by law they are supposed to retain those reports for so many years.can someone please help

  21. Jodi Ginsberg says:

    Dave, I would suggest that you discuss this question with a lawyer. If you were injured in Georgia, please feel free to call my office at 770-351-0801 – otherwise, you should find an experienced workers’ comp. lawyer. Problems with reporting an injury can damage your case greatly so you should not try to deal with this issue on your own.

  22. elizabeth ray says:

    I was injured at work over 7 months ago. I went to iworks and then went to my doc, Both docs have me on restrictions and 2 months ago the company had me go see another doc of there choice , with no records or anything he seen me for maybe 15 mins and sent a report saying i can go back to work.. So now my work informs me that even though Iworks and my back specialist says restrictions that i have to return to work back on the floor and ignore the strictions. Iworks even says no patient transfers but my work says they dont care about Iworks i have to go back to my CNA job. So now what do i do? 

  23. Jodi Ginsberg says:

    Elizabeth, I deal with this type of situation frequently. Often the insurance company’s main focus is to find a doctor who will return you back to work quickly, then you will be fired shortly therafter.  When I represent a client, my focus is on obtaining quality medical care and healing.  If you live in Georgia and would like to talk to me, my phone number is 770-351-0801.

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