Workers’ Compensation FAQ
I’ve been hurt at work – can the employer’s doctor (independent medical examiner/IME) force me to go back to work when my doctor says I cannot?
Anytime the employer sends you for an independent medical examination (IME), it is trying to get you back to work by having their doctor release you. Anytime you are scheduled for an independent medical examination, you should call the law offices of Evey Black Attorneys LLC because this means the employer and its insurance company hope to terminate or decrease your benefits. When the employer’s doctor (IME) says you can return to work, and your doctor says you cannot, you should continue to treat with your own doctor; you are free (if needed) to obtain a second opinion from a doctor of your choosing regarding your work injury. We can help you make sense of what each doctor is telling you and also help you communicate with your employer and its insurance company to ensure that your work restrictions are being respected by your employer. If the independent medical examination/IME says you are “fully recovered” and you know you have not fully recovered, we will defend you vigorously and assist you in gathering the medical evidence necessary to document that you are still injured and/or still experiencing complications from your work injury.
I suffered an injury at work, and my employer is telling me that I must use my vacation and sick time instead of receiving workers’ compensation benefits – Is this right?
If you have been injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. If you miss work because of your work injury, the employer should notify its workers’ compensation insurance company. The insurance company should then start paying you a percentage of your lost wages. Most employers will have you complete or sign off on an incident report when you have an accident. If that occurs, you should make sure the paperwork is 100 percent correct before signing. Other than the incident report, you should not sign any documents without consulting Evey Black Attorneys LLC because it may affect your benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If you are being told you must use your paid time off (PTO) or Short-Term Disability (STD) instead of receiving workers’ compensation benefits when you have been injured at work, you should contact us immediately. We have counseled many employees in this situation, and it is critical that we take prompt and effective action to assist in getting you the benefits you deserve. Sometimes injured workers “go along” with the employer hoping that they will get back to work quickly, or because they are concerned they may lose their job. When you are in that situation, we can help you explore all options and your consultation with us will be 100 percent confidential.
I’m getting workers’ compensation checks – can my employer just stop paying me?
When you get hurt at work and are missing work because of your injury, the workers’ compensation insurance company should issue a document called a Notice of Compensation Payable (NCP) or a Temporary Notice of Compensation Payable (TNCP). An NCP means the employer agrees that you got hurt at work. You should review that NCP with us to make sure the information accurately describes your injury and what happened when you got hurt. Errors in these documents are often discovered when it is too late. Your employer cannot stop paying you these wage loss benefits without filing a petition. If you get any petition to change your benefits, you should call Evey Black Attorneys LLC immediately so that we can assist you. If the employer or insurance company stops paying your benefits without a petition and order, they may have violated the law and be subject to penalties (which means additional money owed to you).
A TNCP means the employer is temporarily agreeing to pay you benefits, but still has 90 days to deny your claim. At the end of the 90 days, your TNCP will either convert to an NCP or be revoked, with the insurance company saying you did not get hurt at work. If this happens, and you are still having work-related problems, we can meet with you and file a petition to get you the benefits you are entitled to receive under the Workers’ Compensation Act. We will quickly respond to your call or email because we understand that every paycheck is critical to you and your family.
I’m afraid of losing my job if I contact an attorney about my work injury.
Some injured workers are reluctant to contact an attorney out of fear that they will lose their job or be treated poorly by their employer. It is our experience that the opposite is true. When we meet with you regarding your work injury, we provide information and assistance that actually helps you realize that you are not alone in this difficult time of your life. Making sure the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier know you have a lawyer and know your rights often results in you being treated more fairly and in accordance with the law. Employers know they are not permitted to retaliate against an employee because you are injured at work. If you believe that you have been the victim of retaliation by your employer because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you should see us immediately. In addition, sometimes the workers’ compensation insurance company will communicate with you through a “claims representative” or “adjuster.” It is important to remember that these individuals work for the employer, and it is not their job to look out for your legal rights. As your advocate, we at Evey Black Attorneys LLC communicate with your claims representative or adjuster to make sure that your legal rights are protected and respected.
What should I do if my employer is ignoring my work restrictions?
We often hear from our clients that they return to work with restrictions and/or weight limits, and their employer or a supervisor asks them to perform activities that are outside of those restrictions. Your employer cannot make you complete work that is outside your restrictions or limitations. It is important that when you return to work with lifting or other restrictions you should only do work that is within those restrictions/physical limitations. Otherwise, your employer may argue that you are not really hurt if you are able to complete these assigned duties. If this is happening to you, please call us so that we can discuss your options. Evey Black Attorneys LLC will work to protect your rights and ensure that your employer cannot use your willingness to be a good employee against you.