Beware Workers’ Compensation Red Flags

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Here are a couple workers’ compensation red flags I see from time to time.

Employers, insurers and sometimes even medical providers work together to undermine the ability of injured workers to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. Here are examples of phrases that should raise the alarm for an injured worker:

“If you go on workers’ comp, you only get two-thirds of your pay.”

I’ve heard this line from representatives of two major employers in Nebraska. I’ve seen the effect of this line to be

  1. to discourage an employee from getting surgery where they will be have to spend time off of work
  2. to encourage people to continue jobs that they have physical difficulties doing
  3. encourage an unwary worker to get a release without restrictions from an injury where the worker is not fully healed.

The reason why this statement isn’t honest is that workers compensation benefits are not taxed, so the benefits you would receive from workers compensation should be close to what you actually take home, assuming you do not work a lot of overtime. If an employer can use this line to persuade you not to seek medical treatment and/or to get a full release back to work before you are ready, then you are giving up workers’ compensation benefits and also likely hurting any fair employment claim you have against your employer.

“So-and-so had this surgery and they went back to work the next day.”

This type of statement is sometimes made by surgeons and/or their support staff. In my experience such a statement is a red flag because

  1. just the trauma of most surgeries in and of itself should require at least a few days before recovery, keeping in mind that the kind of surgery experienced contributes to this variation
  2. the person who went back to work right away may do a much different job than you do
  3. in my experience a doctor who states they can get someone back to work the next day will say so because it eases approval from the workers’ compensation insurer
  4. doctors who think so highly of their surgical ability oftentimes will not give permanent restrictions and impairment ratings if the worker still has a loss of function from a work injury.

Fortunately workers in Nebraska can choose their own surgeon regardless of whether they gave up their right to choose their own doctor at the beginning of a claim. Most surgeons in Nebraska understand the need cooperate in their patient’s workers compensation claims and are willing to support honest patients with legitimate injuries. However there are a few, for lack of a better word, jerks, who should be avoided by injured workers.