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    Old 02-13-2006, 09:12 AM   #1
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    Return to full duty??

    Return to full duty??? Have a moderate herniated c7 disk which has left me out of work since May of '05. Just went through 3 epidural injections which left me with a mid to lower aching back in addition to my neck and shoulder pain. Epidurals have'nt helped, the last one being on Feb. 3rd. What I need to know is what are my chances of returning to full working capacity by May of '06. I'm a tractor trailer driver and heavy lifting is required. Currently taking 2700mg of neurontin along with 1500 robaxin and vicodin as needed. Thanks

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    Old 02-13-2006, 12:45 PM   #2
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    Re: Return to full duty??

    Hey TPM, Sound like you have been "Comped". I assume this is a work related injury and comp is returning you to full duty. It does seem odd not to have any work restrcictions, but in the comp system, your pretty much have to do what they say or they suspend your benefits. If that seems absurd and impossible. You might want to pay for your own IME, Independnet medical eval. Someone comp sends you to for an IME isn't independent, they are paid b comp and comp won't continue to refer patients to them if they don't get the DX and prognosis they want to here, manly you will be fine and your problems are just musclualr and the longer you do nothing the worse you become.

    IT cost me $300 10 years ago to get my own IME at Duke, But once I actually knew what was wrong, what all my options were, I could at least make an informed dicision. The bottom line still came down to hwow long I could take the squeeeze fof having benefits cut off untill I complied with their docs wishes. Their docs turned out to be completely wrong, They I had a laminctomy discectomy and after a year the said I was fine, graduated me from PM boot camp ajust like they did everyone else and retrurned me to work. They said I would neevr need more surgery and most of the problems were musclular which would work themself out after the surgery. As it turned out 2 years after stettling I had my first fusion that failed, I broke that set of hardare, 3 years later I had m y 3rd surgery to repair the faild fusion and this one fused me 6 levels and failed, this hardare is breaking, pulling out of screw holes and toggling and left me disabled. Unless there was clear cut neglagence in your injury, nobody gets righ on comp. There is no fault, no pain and suffering and you can't go back and ammend a settlement once your completely disabled at the age of 35, 6 years after you settled for squat.It wasn't enough to pay for 6 months worth of meds I'm on now.
    Comp wortks for your employer, and comp docs work for the insurance company. If the docs don' have a bvvery high retrurn to work tratio, they oose the lucrative comp contracts, so those docs are insurance and employer friendly, that's why t's important o egt an outside opinion regarding everything, you DX, your prognosis, the likelyhood of needing surgery in the future and the possibility of cmplete disability from failed surgery.

    I know none of this makes you feel any better,but it's not comp job t make you feel better, it's their job to o egt you back to work or squeeze you into a minimal settlement by discontinung benefits and taking the food off your table.

    This is the point where things become advisarial with comp and your employer. Unfortunatly 15 years of being a great employeee doesn't mean much if your unable to work. Any great history goes out the window and if you refuse and the comp docs say you can work, the insurance carrier will suspend your beneftits and simply out wait you untill you take a crappy deal. How long can you live on no income? This is when you get an attorney, you get your own docs and figure out what's going on with your neck.

    Are you going to need surgery a year after you settle? It's a messed up situation, but because people have abused the comp system. Like the insurance fraud you see on TV, where the guy out on comp throughs is walker in the back the his truck after he leaves the docs office and goes and plays 18 hols of golf. Then they film the person putting a new roof on that claims they can't bend or lift more than 5 lbs.

    The few that have abused the system have made it harder on those truly injured. Just like folks that absue pain meds have made it tough for people in ntractable pain to find pain elief. Comp starts treating everyone like they are trying to get over and they know they can out wait you if they suspend your pay. People get forced into crappy deals because comp is in the position of power and authority.

    If there doc says your OK to work. You need your own doc, hopefully imensely more qaualifid that says your not OK and a lawyer to fight comp for you. Fortunately comp lawyers do have limits on what they can charge in most cases..

    You also have the issue of your CDL licence , driving on Neurontin isn't the greatest idea, If your your drug tested by DOT and they find opiates you have more problems. If the DMV finds your taking anti seizure meds, you will likely have another hoop to jump through.

    Rather than turning your situation with your employer and comp advesarial, You could try going back to work. Let your emloyer figure out what to do with you while you take these meds, The liability will fall on them if they put you back on the road while taking these meds if something happens.

    Your empl;oyer may work something out and offer something else like a dispatch job or some other function or you could return and see how you do. If after 2 days your crippled, go back to the doc that returned you to work.

    Comp will take the position that even if you can't return to your old job you can find something else. They should have vocational counselors available, alot of stuff they aren't going to tell you about unless you know what should be made available and that's where a lawyer comes in. However once you get a lawyer, everything changes. Comp won' t even talk to you, they have to go through your lawyer. Your employer is left wondering why you have an attorney and most comp settlements include you resigning so you won't be a further liability if you reinjure yourself, so you really have to decide what your going to due.

    Either comply with their docs, ask your employer to make acomadations, get your own truly Independent surgical opinion or get an attorney and start thinking about a settlement or some way of delaying settlement talks untill you know whats going on You need an honest opinonwill you need surgery down the road.

    Just to give you an idea it's your future medical that is the largest portion of the settlement. If your pain isn't being managed now and you end up on long acting pain meds like OxyContin MScontin, duragesic patches down the road. These meds cost hundreds if not thousands each month. Likely comp hasn't gone that route because by treating your pain with potent pain meds, that would be like admitting you are injured and in severe pain and there is nothing else they can do.

    There are provisions in comp where if your not able to return to the same job, but can find a less physical job but you make less money, comp will pay 2/3rds of the diffference in what you were making before and what your doing now. But your at the point where comp is saying you can work and if you can't you need your own docs to explain why and an attorney to negotiate a settlement or force their hand into more treatment. Nerve blocks, more PT, pain management, chiro, whatever helps. It's a crappy system but better than nothing which most countries offer.
    Goodluck, Dave

    Old 02-13-2006, 12:53 PM   #3
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    Re: Return to full duty??

    Thanks for the reply. I guess I didn't relay my situation to clearly. I have been with a company for 25 yrs as a trailer driver. Policy is that the union will protect a workers employment for a period of 1 year. Unfortunatly I was injured while preforming the duties of a volunteer fireman back in May of '05. The fire dept. becomes my employer as far as workers comp is concerned. now with my 1 year "aniversary coming up I'm afraid I may be out of a job (paying that is). I must be able to preform all duties which require heavy lifting not to mention the vibration driving the truck. Thanks

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