Senator Dan Quick has introduced employee-friendly legislation
Last weekend’s Big 10 Conference football championship game between Ohio State and Wisconsin contained some off-the-field controversy when former Wisconsin Badger and current Cleveland Browns player, Joe Thomas, criticized the fact that Ohio State starting quarterback J.T. Barrett was playing in the game six days after arthroscopic knee surgery.
While Barrett lead the Buckeyes to victory with 211 passing yards and 60 rushing yards, Thomas argued that college players should have the option of a second opinion when it comes to major surgeries like players do in the NFL. Thomas argued that team doctors are overly influenced by coaches who want players to return to action as soon as possible and that college players are over eager to return to the field.
What happens to my workers’ compensation case if my doctor says I might need surgery in a few years but not now?
A common concern among workers’ comp clients is the worry of what will happen with their injured body part or parts in the future. This concern is often raised when a doctor tells a patient they MAY need surgery in the future. In Nebraska, the fact that you may need medical care in the future does not mean that a surgery will be paid for by workers’ compensation. In order for any medical care to be paid by workers’ compensation, that medical care must be reasonable and necessary to treat your work injury. MAY does not cut it for courts and insurance companies.
Fortunately, under Nebraska law, medical care is defined as anything that hastens return to employment or relieves pain. Many times, doctors, especially surgeons, will state that there is no treatment required for an injury. Insurance companies take this to mean there is no need for future medical care. However, if your doctor prescribes medication, a brace for you to wear, compression stockings, or even that you do exercises with equipment prescribed by a doctor, that all qualifies as future medical treatment. The advantage of asking your doctor for braces, or even simple equipment like exercise bands or squeeze balls, for treatment is that it gives a court the leeway to award you future medical care so that if you need surgery down the road, it is more likely that the surgery will be approved. Also, if you do your prescribed exercises, it is probably less likely that you will need surgical care in the future. Finally, if you are diligent about doing your recommended exercises to treat your injury, a doctor is more likely to support you in your workers’ compensation case.
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
to discourage an employee from getting surgery where they will be have to spend time off of work
to encourage people to continue jobs that they have physical difficulties doing
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
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
the person who went back to work right away may do a much different job than you do
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
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.
If you are involved in a workers’ compensation situation, it is essential to know your rights, as they vary from state to state. Attorneys at Rehm, Bennett & Moore are licensed in both Nebraska and Iowa, and the workers’ compensations systems are very different between the two states. This video addresses what happens in Nebraska if a person needs surgery.