My Employer called and said I need to come to work but my doctor told me to stay out of work – What do I do?

September 18, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Sometimes when your workers’ compensation doctor has you out of work, the employer, adjuster or the nurse case manager (NCM) will contact the doctor who has you off of work and convince him to let you work a light duty job; sadly this often happens without the injured worker knowing anything about it!  cartoon nurseIf your doctor has given you a note that says you are not to be working and then you get a call about returning to work, you need to contact your doctor IMMEDIATELY!  You need to contact the doctor to get some clarity on what your true work status really is. If the doctor has changed your out of work note to now read as a light duty release (this does happen often), you need to get a copy of this so you have a full understanding of what it is you can and can’t do and if you are to return to work at a light duty status.  The other reason to contact the doctor immediately is because if you truly have been given a light duty release and do not return to work, your benefits could be terminated and you could lose your job for job abandonment – this is a HUGE mess for injured workers and should be avoided if at all possible!

 

If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Do NOT let Adjusters, Case Managers or Vocational Counselors into your home!

September 16, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I’ve talked to several injured workers lately who have mentioned to me that either a case manager, vocational counselor or adjuster has come to their home recently to talk about their case.  Listen up folks – don’t let people who work for the insurance company into your home!  This puts injured workers in a vulnerable position by letting an employee of the insurance company into their private residence to poke around.  By “poke around” I mean:

 

Is that a stroller?

Is there a young child around who needs to be cared for or picked up?

What about that weight set in the corner?  Are you working out?

Who uses those golf clubs? insurance-companies

 

All these things can lead to ASSUMPTIONS that could potentially lead to problems down the road for someone seeking benefits.

 

My point is – even things that seem harmless could spark a conversation or hint at something that was not intended so you need to be extra careful!  I always tell people that when things are left to chance, chances are the insurance company will lean towards whatever is financially beneficial for them – not the injured worker!

 

If you are going to be meeting with someone from the insurance company or anyone working on your claim, I always recommend a public place (restaurant, library, park – pretty much anywhere but your home).

 

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

 

 

 

My employer won’t let me come to work while I’m on light duty – what do I do?

September 11, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

First of all, if your employer won’t let you come to work on light duty, don’t take it personally.  Many employers out there simply don’t offer light duty work and others may have some light duty work but it may only be sporadic.  Your job as the injured worker is to communicate with your employer about this and keep them informed of your work status, even if your employer says they don’t offer light duty work, call and check in every so often and let them know you are willing to work if they provide you 22880-injured-worker-helpingwith tasks that your doctor says are appropriate (and ALWAYS keep track of these communications!).  If you are not able to work for your employer while you are on light duty, you may need to be marketing (looking for light duty work) – this can be a complicated scenario so if you find yourself in this position, it is best to consult with an attorney to ensure you are taking all the necessary steps that are required of you, the injured worker.

 

If you have questions about your responsibilities as an injured worker or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD) are NOT automatic!

September 9, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Temporary Partial Disability benefits, or TPD, are wages paid to an injured worker when they are working under light duty restrictions from their doctor and earning less than their pre-injury average weekly wage.  However, these benefits are not automatic (unless there is an award order)  The injured worker has to send their money bagcheck stubs in to the insurance adjuster or their attorney (depending on their 100 Dollar Billsmoney bagmoney bagsituation) and the insurance company can then calculate the difference in wages owed (based on gross earnings) and the average weekly wage. Then, the adjuster will cut a check to the injured worker for 2/3rds  of the difference.  The trick here is for the injured worker to know that they have to send in their pay stubs to prove that they are earning less than the average weekly wage.  I have had a lot of people ask me when they are going to be compensated for the difference in pay but they have not submitted their pay stubs because they did not realize that they were required to do so.  If you don’t send in your pay stubs, you won’t get paid – like everything else, the insurance company is not going to take your word that you are making less – you must prove it by providing your pay stub.

 

If you have questions about how lost wages are paid, or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today(804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Being an advocate for injured workers is what makes the difference!

September 4, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Being advocates for injured workers is what makes a huge difference between the Injured Workers’ Law Firm and any other run of the mill attorney’s office.  My goal is to help all injured workers, even if you don’t need to hire an attorney.  I have seen first-hand how big insurance companies can take advantage of people after they have been hurt and it has got to stop!  I may not have the power to change the laws and close the loopholes the insurance companies operate within to put the squeeze on injured workers; but I can and will arm people with information to help guide them through this complicated system. knowledge-is-power

 

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

What is Mediation?

September 2, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Mediation is a way of resolving conflict in a claim without going through the formal court process.  The injured worker, insurance carrier and their representatives can all sit down and discuss the facts of the case and what it might take to make both parties agreeable to an outcome.  It is a way for the insurance company and the injured worker to try and reach an agreement about benefits or settlement without a Deputy Commissioner (workers’ compensation judge) determining the outcome.  Mediation can be a great thing for injured workers because it is overseen by an impartial 3rd party, is voluntary and in most cases is faster than going to court.  If the parties cannot reach an amenable agreement, they still have the option to pursue their argument through the court process.

conference

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

I got a “20 Day Order” in the mail – what is this?

August 29, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Once you have filed your Claim for Benefits with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWCC), you will get a letter from the VWCC that says 20 Day Order in the left hand corner, I get tons of calls from folks wanting to know what this letter is all about.  This is a standard computer generated letter; once you file your claim with the VWCC and formally request your benefits (the Claim for Benefits form – part B), the VWCC sends the 20 Day Order to the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier now has 20 days to respond to the VWCC and let them know officially if your claim is accepted or denied. You are getting a copy to let you know what is going on. The Commission will mail you a copy of the 20 day Order response as well. Hopefully, it will say that they accept the claim and are circulating agreement forms so an award order can be entered.workcompva

 

If you have questions about the paperwork you have received from the VWCC, or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

I just had my FCE, is my claim OVER?

May 12, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Claims for Benefits, Hurt on Job 

Not at all! The FCE or Functional Capacity Exam is an exam where the therapist has you do a series of movements and measures your strength and range of motion.  This usually means that you have reached a medical plateau and the doctor does not expect any significant improvement, this DOES NOT mean that your medical care is over; you may still be seeing a doctor for pain control.  Based on the FCE results, the doctor will determine your new physical abilities for rejoining the work force. Basically, if you need to be on a form of permanent light duty, this is the test that determines what those limitations will be into the foreseeable future.Puzzle Pieces

Then, once the FCE results are known, this may also determine whether you can return to your former employer or position.  Depending on the situation, you may be returning to your employer in a different position than before, you might be looking for work with a new employer that meets your physical abilities or you may not be able to return to work at all.  Another piece of this puzzle is that depending on the situation, you might be working with a vocational rehab counselor, trying to find employment. This might be a good time to start settlement negotiations since you will know your physical capabilities and your medical condition should be stable.

Each situation is unique so this is why I always recommend speaking with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who knows the ins and outs of this tricky process.

If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

 

Psychological conditions are not covered unless you have a PHYSICAL injury first!

May 5, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Hurt on Job, Work Injury, Workers Compensation 

There seems to me a misconception out there among some workers that they can get workers’ compensation benefits for things like stress, depression or anxiety.  The truth is that in Virginia, workers’ compensation benefits are only awarded for psychological injuries if the injured worker first has a PHYSICAL injury.  For example, the state of Virginia won’t award you workers’ compensation benefits for depression alone, however, if you had an injury that required surgery and then you developed depression and the doctor says this stems from the work injury then you could have depression recognized as part of your workers’ compensation claim. PTSD and Anxiety

The truth is, many injured workers can develop psychological injuries after they have been a victim of a work place injury, the trick is that the doctor has to be able to say that the mental condition was a result of the physical work injury and not due to something else.  Psychological injuries are tricky and if you are pursuing benefits for a psychological condition, I always recommend speaking to an attorney who is experienced with these complicated cases.

If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

 

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

April 30, 2014 by · Comments Off
Filed under: Back Injury 

The sad truth is that surgery is not a 100% guarantee to a full recovery after a back injury. Sometimes injured workers have surgery and don’t get any relief from their pain and/or their physical limitations and sometimes they get even worse! It is very sad but medicine is not always an exact science, back-pain-spine-300x200especially when it comes to the spine. When a person has had several back surgeries with no relief, it is typically referred to as failed back surgery syndrome or FBS. From the research I have done, FBS is not technically a medical diagnosis but is a commonly used term that can be broadly applied to patients who have continued lumbar (lower back) pain after surgery. Doctors can treat the FBS in several different ways including therapy, medication, injections and in some cases, additional surgery.

If you have experienced a failed back surgery after a work injury or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

 

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

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