It goes without saying that people heal from injuries in different ways. When you are faced with a work-related injury, it can be difficult to understand how and when you are supposed to return your job. Read on to find out what might happen if the workers' compensation insurance carrier says that you are healed enough to return to your job.
Predicting a Return to Work
The workers' comp agency usually has a good idea of how long your injury might take to heal. They have access to large databases of information that compare various injuries with the period of time off from work. You might be surprised when the workers' comp representative lets you know that you might be able to go back to work and that you must undergo an independent medical exam (IME). This exam has a major impact on you and how your benefit situation unfolds.
The Independent Medical Examination
Once you have been home from work and receiving a disability wage for a while, you may be asked to participate in the IME. The stated purpose of the IME is to gain a better understanding of why you say you are unable to return to work. The doctor that performs the IME is not your regular doctor or your workers' comp doctor—they are contracted (paid) by the workers' comp company to determine your ability to work at your previous job.
What to Expect at the Exam
Just like other doctor's appointments, your vital signs will be taken. The IME doctor will be questioning you about the accident, your treatments up to now, your current pain levels, and more. The doctor will then manually manipulate the injured areas of your body in an attempt to determine your discomfort, range of movement, swelling, and other medical issues. Based on the findings, the doctor may recommend that you can return to your job.
Be Ready for Your IME
Just being passive during this exam might be a mistake. You must be your own advocate and convey your pain level and your inability to do your job to the doctor in no uncertain terms. Take the following steps.
First, review your treatment records and the accident and be ready to discuss it. Next, without exaggerating your condition, be prepared to explain how the injury affects you on a daily basis.
Always be specific when possible. For example, instead of saying that your back hurts all the time, say that you are experiencing sharp pains when you stand and walk and that it aches so much at might that you are unable to rest properly.
Also, be sure to connect the current status of your injury to specific job tasks. If you have had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome but are still unable to use your hands, wrists, and fingers to do your keyboarding tasks, frame your statement to the doctor in that manner.
Never return to a job while still suffering from a work-related injury. Speak to a workers' compensation attorney about your issues with the findings of the IME or for any other workers' comp problem at once.