What If My Doctor Wants Me To Work But I Am Not Ready After A Work Injury/Workers Comp?

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March 11  

Treating Doctor Wants To Send You Back To Work

What should you do if your treating doctor wants to send you to work but you don't feel physically ready to go back to work? So What should you do in a workers comp case under those circumstances?

Here's how it works in workers comp. I tell my clients, anytime you go to the doctor, you always need a work status note. And the work status note has to keep your status the same until you see that doctor again. And then when you see him again, you get a fresh note.

What should you do with that note? You should give me a copy of that note or your attorney, and you should send a copy to the claims or insurance company and or your company. So everybody knows you're off with a doctor's note. Why do we do that? Because in workers comp cases, unlike in a car crash case or other kinds of cases, in workers comp, there are provisions under the workers comp law for you to get paid while you're off work, but only if you have a good doctor's note. So that's why that's important. 

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Treated By A Company Doctor

But what happens when you're treating doctor says okay you're free, you're ready to go back to work and you just don't feel ready? Before I answer that question, this circumstance happens a lot when the injured worker is treated by a company doctor. In other words, a doctor recommended by the insurance company, the claims company or your employer.

Those doctors, the insurance company doctor, or the claims company doctor or your company's doctor that they send you to. Those doctors make a lot of money by treating patients that are referred by the insurance company, claims company or your employer. ]They see lots of patients that way and so those doctors have a mixed loyalty. They have some loyalty to you because you're their patient, but they have an economic incentive to make the insurance company, the claims company, and your employer happy.

And how do they make them happy? By reducing the value of your case, sending you back to work right away so they're not paying you while you're out of work. So you have to be mindful of that and that's why I tell you, if there is any resistance or any concern that you have about the company doctor, you're better off treating with a doctor who will be on your side.

A Doctor On Your Side

There are plenty of doctors out there who know how workers comp cases work. You need to be treated by the one who will be on your side and doesn't have mixed loyalties, loyalty to the insurance claims or your employer.

So what do you do if your treating doctor is a company doctor and they want you to go back to work and you're not ready? One thing you can do is switch treating doctors. That's hard to do after a surgery, because a surgeon or an orthopedic doctor is not going to want to give you follow-up care post-surgery, unless you need another surgery. Because orthopedic surgeons do surgery, that's their business, they don't want some other doctor to do the surgery and then they do the follow-up and they see you for five minutes and write a script for physical therapy.

Go Ahead And Try

So the earlier on the process that you switch doctors to a doctor who's on your side, the better. But this is what I tell people when their doctor suggests they should go to work on modified or light duty or just return to work full duty. You have to go to work and try doing it. I usually recommend that to people. Now understand, if you are absolutely not able to go to work and you think it would be dangerous for you to go to work, don't do it. Get into a different doctor, get a real examination, a fair examination, and get a note that says you can't go to work.

But if you think it's possible for you to go and try, I recommend that you go and try and do it. And if you're able to do it, fantastic. Maybe you misunderstood where you were physically and regarding the injured body part, which is very common, it's nothing dishonest about it. But if you're but if you go, and you're not able to do it, then what you do is, you make another appointment with your doctor and say "look doctor, I went in for three days, and now my back is killing me, or my shoulder is killing me".

Light Duty Job

The other thing to be aware of is, if they give you a light duty job. For example, let's say you had shoulder surgery, but instead of keeping you off work, the doctor says you're modified duty left-handed work only. A lot of times they'll make you go to work and they'll put you at a desk and give you nothing to do for eight hours a day. There is not much we can do about that, just based on the way Illinois workers comp law works.   Your state might be different if you were hurt outside Illinois.

But if you go to work with a one-handed work restriction, for example, and they put you right back into two-handed work. Like they want you to type all day or you're doing carpentry or you're doing factory work that requires two hands. Again, you want to note, that let your supervisor know that the work isn't within your restriction and then get back to your doctor and tell them "doctor you gave me a one-handed work restriction and they're making me do full duty work".

Full Duty Is Against Your Restrictions

Then if your doctor is fair at all, he'll write a note, keeping you completely off work. He'll put in your medical records that you went back to work, you were willing to work and they put you into full duty work which is against your restriction and which is dangerous for you to do if you've got an injury.

So that is how you deal with it. I know it's a little complicated, but the nature of some of these situations is, that it's quite complicate complicated. That's why I tell people whether they got hurt at work or in a car crash or however they got hurt, it is always good to get a free consultation from an attorney who knows what they're doing and who you feel like you can trust.

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