For those injured at work, your employer provides a valuable benefit. Workers' comp insurance will cover your medical expenses and even pay a portion of your salary while you stay home and recuperate. In most cases, your time using this benefit is relatively short, and you return to your usual job once you are healed and released by the doctor. Since you are only receiving a portion of your salary, it's best if you are able to return to your job as soon as possible, since most people will begin to suffer financially because of the reduced pay. Read on to learn about what could happen if you are not able to return to your job because of your injury.
A special medical exam
The workers' comp carrier keeps a careful check on you while you are receiving benefits and may ask you to undergo a special type of medical exam if you are not able to return to work in a timely manner. The time period for this exam, called the independent medical exam (IME), varies depending on your type of injury. For example, if your injury was severe and catastrophic, your exam will come quickly after your injury. For those injuries that take longer to heal, such as a back injury, your request for a an exam could come after a few weeks or months of medical treatment. With this exam, the carrier can get more information about your injury and make decisions on your ability to continue to receive benefits.
Three possible outcomes
The IME results in these three outcomes:
1. Your injury has healed and you must return to work.
2. Your injury has not healed, but is expected to heal in the near future.
3. Your injury has not healed, and further improvement is unlikely. This is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Maximum medical improvement
This outcome is also known as having a permanent injury, and while you may continue to receive medical treatment for this work-related injury, you are not expected to be able to return to your previous job. When you have a permanent injury, your workers' comp benefits don't go away, but they do change. Normally, you will be offered a lump sum settlement for your injury. Care should be used when evaluating any offer, since you may never be able to work at your job again and may end up depending on that monetary award to last you the remainder of your working life.
Even if you never considered seeking the assistance of a workers' comp attorney during this time, the negotiations for your settlement are best left to a legal professional who will know what you are entitled to get and will work to ensure you get it. For more information, contact companies like Rizzi Law Group.