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State Employee Injury
#1
Question 
I wanted to get some insight from others on this, and maybe some hope for the future.

I worked for a state correctional department, and I injured my knee after falling. It was while in uniform, and in performance of my duties and all caught on camera (supervisor saw it, but the footage was lost). I was taken to urgent care and had a few follow up appointments there. I only took a few days off work. I injured my knee and my ankle. While my ankle was semi feeling like it was getting my better, my knee was hurting with the first weight put on it the next day. I went for a few followups with the urgent care clinic thinking it would heal by then, and it did not. So, they tried to refer me to get x rays done. However, worker's compensation told me that they would not approve it yet until they reviewed my claim. So, I waited....and waited. Eventually, I got notice that they denied by case because they claimed it was an idiopathic fall.

I retained an attorney, and continued to work, and went to my own doctor. I had restrictions but my work tried to ignore them without blatantly doing so. I had one supervisor who believed I was faking it, so made sure I didn't get better posts that would have been better for my injury. All I got was minimal compliance with my restrictions. Eventually they claimed my restrictions expired, even though they had no expiration date. I tried to argue with them but was told I had to bring in more paperwork. So, I worked unrestricted, and felt like I was injuring myself more.

At this point, my doctor had referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who believed I had torn tendons in my left foot, which have healed, and torn my miniscus in my knee...and strangely developed a bone spur from walking weird because of it. He gave me a cortisone shot in the knee and the heel (for the spur) and told me to give it a month and come back if it didn't heal so he could schedule and mri. After the shots I felt like the inflammation was gone, but it just made the pain less dull and achy and more sharp and stabby. I was hoping it was healing, but it was not.

After a few months, my blood pressure soared and was near emergency levels. I was coming home from work and spending over an hour sitting in the shower because I had to rest before being able to stand to even shower. I would sit there with hot water on my knee and feet until I was able to stand and shower. The bone spur went away, and my left ankle more or less healed, but my knee never did. So, my doctor took me off work. Without me requesting him to. He made the case that if I did not things would get bad for me, in blood pressure levels and otherwise. So, I was off work, and still fighting for my case.

After a month off work I was able to find a job working from home. It pays the bills, but its about 80% the income I was making. The up side is I didnt have to work on my knee. A little bit after I got notice, after a state mediator got involved, that my worker's compensation case was being approved.

Since then, I have been to the worker's compensation doctor once (and orthopedic surgeon) and attempted to have my mri done....but they could't get clear pictures and are sending me to a different place about 2 hours away. Still do not know when.

I have been told I should be getting compensated, but do not know when. The worker's compensation agent will not talk to me and only says go to my lawyer. My lawyer is a good one, and came recommended by one of the top attorney's in the state (who couldn't take my case because his load was full). He knows his stuff and has been helping, but I have not even gotten compensated for my gas a travel time, when I am driving 3 hours round trip to the doctor, and going to be like 4 hours or more round drop to the mri. I have had xrays done twice (I think once by my private doctor and once by the orthopedic surgeons office).

Initially the ortho tried to release me back to work after seeing me (before my first mri appointment) with the normal 'no squatting, kneeling, or climbing' restrictions, but my work immediately told me that when I was coming back they would be putting my in a post that had stairs as a required part of the job. I would be going up and down these stairs (the same type I was injured on) about 4 or more times a day. I told them that the no climbing restriction should apply and they told me it did not. So, I called the doctor, and they initially told me that no climbing meant no stairs. However, when they sent over the paperwork to clarify to my work, the doctor switched it up and said stairs were ok. I called back and asked what was going on, and the manager I spoke with told me that is what the doctor wanted to do and I couldn't change it until my next appointment, and they would not schedule me until after my mri. I told my work I was not coming back in until I got it cleared up and got this worker's compensation thing arranged. They still have me on unpaid leave. After the prior experience with them I do not feel comfortable putting the fate of my health in their hands. Next thing I know they will have my doing jumping jacks while balancing on my hurt knee and claiming its permitted by restrictions.


Coming right down to it is this:
It is nearly a year since my accident. My claim is approved but I haven't seen a dime. I am still waiting on testing.

My knee is the concern here, and it still hurts. There is plenty of time where it doesn't. I can walk on flat surfaces, but any heavy use of it hurts after a bit. If I walk or do any use of it, light or heavy, it hurts more when I rest. Sometimes it hurts just to hurt. On a pain scale I would say something like a 3-5. Sometimes it is higher, like 7 or 8. Sometimes it feels like I have a sharp thick pike in my knee, sometimes its like I have a band of ache and soreness going just below my knee and sometimes just above it.

In some instances I feel like it will give out when it hurts or when I step. It just about did on the stairs at work a couple times when they made me work without restrictions. I do not get up and move around much anymore because I just avoid it. However, even just sitting here in my chair it hurts. Its a dull ache the shoots a little. 1-3 on the scale.

I know the worker's compensation doctor will probably try and shrug this off as something small. I don't know what to make of it. My attorney just keeps plugging along with me just encouraging me to go down the path. He says I can quit the employer if I want, but it may impact the settlement rate at the end. If they keep me on and eventually fire me it will look better in my favor, but he will not tell me to go one way or another and leave it in my hands to make the decision. He is not trying to get me to play the system, he is just telling me how it is.

I am worried about two things. If I keep pursuing legal recourse will it matter. Will I get enough of a settlement to even make a different. Will I get backpay for my missed time because my own doctor took me off, but the worker's comp doctor tried to send me back? .... and in the end, if its just something small like the torn miniscus will I get shuffled out of anything serious in the settlement offer and walk away with basically nothing for all this hassle and time.

I am not looking for a million dollar pay out or something ridiculous. All I really want is my knee fixed and to be compensated for my missing time and effort in dealing with this. Its been a big pain in dealing with everything, and I with it was just done and over with.


I got to thinking about all of this because a family member, who I do not like, just got a settlement for a worker's compensation case. He is the classic sleezeball guy who wanted to make it rich off his case. He though he was going to get a six figure settlement. Gloated about it and everything. If you want to know the guy I am talking about, think of a redneck-ier and 200 pound heavier version of lucky from king of the hill.

He hurt his shoulder trying to tighten a rusty strap onto his trailer, and got a 4500 buck backpay after his workers compensation case was done and over with and his doctor released him back to work. He hired an attorney and declined going back to work, and apparently now has a 45,000 dollar settlement confirmed. Frankly, i don't think he deserved it as he was intentionally trying to ham it up and not go back to work. He could fish and work on his boat and all this stuff, but claims he was still hurting and all that. He took a settlement instead of future medical coverage.
Kinda frustrated me that his sorry excuse for a human being got that settlement and I am here still just trying to get treatment.

If you have read this far into my nightly rantings, I would appreciate any thoughts or feedback. Thank you in advance.
 
Reply
#2
I am a small fish on this forum, but I want to say that you are not alone with the work comp mess. I was injured 6 years ago this upcoming December and I just three months ago, finally started seeing money come in. I paid out of pocket for travel expenses( drove 2500 miles one way) and doctor's visits and never get reimbursed. Document everything you have, it will eventually come in handy down the line. Just found out my personal PPO insurance will not cover work comp injuries of any kind, even if WC denies it so I am out of medical care. It is a hassle, it is depressing, it is stagnating, it is life sucking. Keep up the good fight, that's all I have to say. Settlements always depend on what state you are in, it varies state to state. If you are in California, like I am, they have the right to decline treatment if you have future medical. It's not right but its the law. Think of it like this, Workers compensation is a Insurance company for the Employer, not the employee. There are a few helpful people on here that are way more advanced than I am. I am just an underling. I hope you get the help and treatment(and money!) you so desperately need.
 
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