When the injured worker is released by the authorized treating doctor but the employer cannot accommodate the return to work restrictions or limitations, the employee is stuck in a tough spot. No income is coming in because you are not working and the weekly compensation checks have stopped because the doctor placed the employee at maximum medical improvement. Bernard discusses the choices the employee is faced with at this time.
We have several other videos that go along with this topic.
Bernard addresses frequent issues injured workers face when returning to work following an on the job accident in Alabama.
Weekly checks are paid in compensable workers’ compensation claims in Alabama. However, there are situations when those checks are stopped.
Maximum medical improvement (also known as MMI) is when the authorized treating physician believes that no more medical care would improve the injured worker’s medical disability.
Once a client reaches maximum medical improvement, by operation of Alabama law, the weekly checks will stop.
Workers’ compensation claims can lead down many paths before they are resolved. There are many factors that are involved that will determine which path(s).
Wanted to talk to with you for a moment about something that occurs in most of our cases in the work comp setting. It’s that time in the case when an injured worker has been released by the doctor with some restrictions to go back into the workplace but the employer cannot accommodate those restrictions so effectively it leaves the injured worker unemployed with the original employer. There’s no income coming in because once you reach maximum medical improvement by law, the weekly compensation checks stop so the injured employee or injured worker typically doesn’t have any money coming in. What do they do? Well, often times I get the phone call about why’s my case settled? What’s going on? Where’s the money?
Well, sometimes that takes weeks, if not months, to get the case properly resolved whether it’s through settlement or trial. In the meantime, bills keep coming in. Food has to be put on the table. Lights still need to be kept on at the home of the injured worker. Well, that leaves the injured worker with two choices. One, to take out a loan against their case which we never advise. We don’t assist clients. We think that they are just shy of being criminal due to the interest that’s put on those loans or the alternative, and this is what the injured employee really should be looking at is new employment. Well, those restrictions that the doctor gives in returning to work sometimes can be too restrictive in that the injured employee when he’s going to interview, the potential new employer can’t accommodate.
The question becomes should the employee go back to the doctor to have the restrictions lifted? Well, I can’t answer that question. That has to come from the worker him or herself but it’s not really advisable to have those restrictions lifted. They’re there for a reason. You’ve gone to the doctor. The doctor has given professional advice and opinions as to what the worker can and cannot do at this point, but it does become a real struggle for the worker who needs to work but can’t find work within their areas of expertise or training so it does become a real quandary for the injured worker. It’s something that we deal with every time, every case is different. Different scenario, different facts but if you find yourself in this position, please give us a call.
If you have any questions or concerns about this issue or other issues on the law, please call the Nomberg Law Firm at (205) 930-6900.