In Maryland do I have to return to work because the insurance company doctor so indicated?
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In a great majority of cases that I handle the injured worker is faced with the decision of following his treating doctors recommendation or that horrid IME doctors’ recommendation of returning to work in light or full capacity. The decision may seem clear to most. “How can a doctor who spends 10 minutes with me know better than the treating doctor who has seen me for hours on end?”
Its not an easy decision, and the seemingly clear answer becomes very difficult by the multiple issues that come into consideration when options are discussed with a well rehearsed Maryland workers compensation attorney.
The injured worker must weigh their health against their financial well being and in the end there is no guarantee their health will return to pre-accident condition, nor is their a guarantee that they will be financially stable.
- Treating doctors often carry more leverage at the Maryland workers comp commission because the IME doctors can potentially be influenced and just do not know the patient well enough; however there are some very well respected IME doctors and some not so respected treating doctors. A claim for lost wages at the workers compensation commission can go either way. If temporary total disability benefits (lost wages) have stopped the injured Maryland worker will likely need money very soon. The adjuster is not going to willingly pay temporary total benefits without going to a hearing. The first issue to consider is the timing of a hearing. It could take months before a hearing to have benefits reinstated and even after going to a hearing their is no guarantee that the Maryland Commission will rule in the injured workers favor. This means that if he or she chooses to not return to work there is a chance, after waiting 2, 3, or sometimes 4 months for a hearing, the injured worker will be left without pay.
- Maintaining employment must also be considered. In some circumstances the injured worker is protected from losing their job for 12 weeks under FMLA. In Maryland, and in most cases, that is the only protection the injured worker has from losing their job. So even if the lost wages are reinstated there is no guarantee that a job will be reinstated when the worker is ready to return to work.
- A thorough discussion with the treating physician is prudent and necessary for the worker to truly determine what is in their best interest. Sometimes a physician can assist with this very difficult decision by indicating exactly what specific job duties can be performed and what duties must be completely avoided. If the treating physician is holding the employee out of work it may be based on the assumption that no light duty exists.
The Maryland injured employee will not physically be forced back to work at any time however they could potentially lose their job and any financial stability they have obtained. The injured employee must also consider their physical health when attempting to compromise with the insurance adjuster. If the treating doctor is stating bed rest for months and the IME doctor is indicating full duty then it may be in the best interest of the injured worker to wait until a hearing. If the injured worker is able to do most tasks at work but there are a few tasks that the treating doctor wants them to avoid completely then perhaps a return to work is in the best interest of the worker.
An extensive discussion with a qualified Maryland workers compensation attorney is needed for proper advice. Each case is different and the above details can vary greatly on a case by case basis.
See a discussion on the IME doctor visit and what to expect and know.
For a no cost consultation with Maryland workers compensation attorney Andrew Rodabaugh call +1 (410) 937-1659 OR Email