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I have an injury to my right shoulder and was receiving temporary disability benefits. The doctor released me to return to work with work restrictions and gave me modified duties. One of the duties that I cannot perform is overhead lifting. Yet, my employer has me performing this along with several other duties that are exceeding the doctor's work restrictions. I am simply in too much pain and cannot perform these duties.
The workers’ compensation system allows for an injured worker to be paid temporary disability in the event the treating doctor makes a finding that he or she cannot perform any work. The injured worker will be paid 2/3 of his or her wages from the insurance company. The workers’ compensation system encourages injured workers to return to work after a work injury occurs. In the event that that the primary treating doctor decides that the injured worker can return to work, then that will be indicated in the progress report often referred to as a PR2. The doctor will indicate certain limitations such as "no overhead lifting" or "no bending and stooping" for example. The employer is supposed to follow these restrictions and have this work available. If they do not have this work available, then the injured worker gets temporary disability.
The rationale of this is good, obviously, but there can be attempts made to usurp the system. For example, the employer may have the employee working full duties and claim that the work is modified. If the injured worker complains that he or she cannot do this job, then the employer may tell him or her to not come to work and not pay the benefits. They will claim that they are complying with the doctor and the injured worker simply refuses to work. There are also instances where the injured worker will claim he or she cannot do anything even though the doctor’s reports indicate they can.
The best way to avoid this is for the doctor to indicate as many specific restrictions as possible and for the employer to be aware of them. Either they can or cannot accommodate. Good communication and cooperation between the insurance company, employer, and the injured will also go a long ways to addressing this problem. Of course, problems often arise, and attorneys may be needed to resolve disputes.
If you have questions about your workers' compensation injury and want to talk to an attorney in Fresno, please call 559-408-7436 or fill out the form to the right.