Q: Work comp doc put me on full duty trial, employer won't let me return. Am still in pain, doc says can't help anymore?
Sorry about my question was trying to fit it all in these boxes. I suffered a neck sprain at work over a month ago. I have been out of work since, my employer would not accommodate my restrictions which I understand they have a right to. Now my employer says I can not return bcuz I am still receiving med treatment. Been waiting to hear back from HR/adjuster but so far nothing. My CFRA leave ends in two days. I am still in pain, my arms/neck hurt at times and go numb still. Doc said they can't do more to help me. I don't want to suffer with this pain all my life, I am still young! I have hesitated to look into attorneys bcuz I thought it wasn't needed but I have no idea where to go from here. I love my job, but I love my neck and the quality of life I had before my injury more. I used to paint, now I have to take breaks/not paint to avoid numbing pain. Doc says neck movement is restored so I'm FINE but what do I do about this pain my neck still hurts on a daily basis. Do I have a case?
A: You're in PHOENIX? I can only answer for CALIFORNIA workers comp claims. The SMART solution is to change Primary Treating PHysicians to one who is only your side instead of 'in bed' with the insurance company. IF the doctor you are with now already wrote "MMI" then you're sort of married to him, you can't undo the damage he's done (changing now won't make any difference, that report will follow you forever, and the judge could issue a finding on it). So the 'neck hurts on a daily basis' equals nothing if the treating doctor fails to document it as permanent disability. There is no such thing as 'pain & suffering' in California Workers Comp. If you have a medical report in hand that states you are at Maximum Medical Improvement and you can return to all pre-injury work duties, then your employer MUST permit you to return to your old job. If you have a Max Medical Improvement report in hand with Permanent Work Restrictions and this employer has no work for a person with those permanent restrictions, then the employer does not have to make a special new job for you. But if those permanent restrictions can be 'matched' with a 'reasonable accommodation" (you take the elevator instead of the stairs), then the employer must take you back and make the reasonable accommodation. If you have a work status report that orders you to Full Duty with No Restrictions, and the employer refuses to let you try full duty, then you have a violation of Labor Code 132a and you file an action against the employer (it's too tough to do unrepresented you'll need a lawyer for the 132a petition) insisting the judge order them to take you back to work, plus pay you your lost wages.
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