Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I got Hurt on the Job in Connecticut. Can I pick my Doctor?

One of the misconceptions many workers have is that the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation system requires a worker to undergo treatment for workplace injuries from a company specified doctor only. However, this is not the whole truth. Are you able to pick your own medical provider? The quick answer is ‘maybe’. While you are often times able to select your own physician to treat your work injury, there are occasions where your employer has a "medical care plan" in place. This is a pre-approved network of doctors your employer has agreed to pay for in case you get hurt while working in Connecticut. The managed care plan information should be available from your HR department and will provide you with doctors to choose from in many specialties. If your employer has a Connecticut "managed Care Plan" then you will be required to seek treatment from a doctor from this list If the employer has not fulfilled the above-described conditions, you can choose your own doctor in Connecticut immediately following your injury. Regardless of injury, your employer may also mandate the need for a physical exam by a specified physician, under Connecticut General Statute Section 31-294f. If you have questions about any of this, feel free to contact us in Farmington at 860-523-8783.
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Friday, March 22, 2019

A Transition Period For Connecticut workers hurt on the job

In sailing, we use the expression "heave to" to take a break and essentially put the boat in time out to rest during long periods of rough seas or stormy weather. I feel the same way about the current state of practicing workers compensation law in Connecticut. In the past year, we have seen the retirement of three very experienced workers compensation commissioners, and the appointment of a new chairman. These are the "judges" of your compensation case. They issue orders, preside over formal hearings (Connecticut workers compensation trials) and in general work to move business, resolve issues and help lawyers settle sometimes complex Connecticut job injury claims. At the same time, I have noticed a huge influx of new, younger lawyers into the Connecticut workers compensation defense bar. These lawyers are for the most part earnest and want to do a good job for their clients. In their effort to do a good job for their client, most of these lawyers have no experience in the value of moving business, on in the practice of evaluating claims for settlement. This is not a slight. It is just a fact. It takes years in the trenches to get a feel of what a case is really worth and what is needed to move it. Most times, pointless depositions and time-consuming reviews of ancient medical records are not necessary. If an injured worker falls off a ladder and breaks her leg, it is pretty clear that the fracture resulted from the fall. These new lawyers are not yet comfortable accepting that yet. This convergence of inexperienced Commissioners and inexperienced defense lawyers is resulting in a slow down in the moving of business. Neither the mediators over the case not the lawyers for the employer are comfortable enough taking a stand to move the matter forward. They are too wet behind the ears. It is a tough time to be a claimant in Connecticut these days. While those of us who represent injured workers try to adjudicate their business, the lawyers and Commissioners seem content to heave to, not yet comfortable in navigating the heavy seas. Like anything else, this will pass. It is just going to take time. Eventually,the new commissioners will find their sea legs and begin to do the necessary to move the docket. For the time being though, be prepared to clip onto the jack line and slog along for a few months while we try and get your case to safe harbor.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Tedium of Job Searches

Frequently in the life of a Connecticut work injury claim, there will be a period of time where you are required to do the dreaded "job searches." This situation typically arises when a worker, often a construction worker or heavy laborer, sustains an injury and is unable to perform the full range of their required job duties. For instance, while they heal their doctor may prescribe a 20-pound lifting restriction, or limit the use of overhead motion with an upper extremity. In an ideal world, your employer will be happy to work with you around your restrictions and find a job on site for you to perform. This is known as "accommodating" your restrictions. More often, however, the employer cannot accommodate you and would consider your presence to be more of a hindrance than a help. In such a case, job searches become a requirement. The basic idea behind job searches is that the worker's compensation system does not wish to pay an injured employee who is capable of some work. To receive your benefit, you must look for work consistent with your restrictions. These job searches are now most often conducted online on such platforms as Indeed or Snag A Job. The injures worker must typically look for five jobs each week and record his or her efforts on a "Record of Employment Contacts" form. Your Connecticut work injury lawyer then takes this form which you give them and transmits it to the insurance company who in turns cuts you a check. So long as the searches continue to roll in, then so do the checks. Keep in mind that insurance companies will often scrutinize your efforts. Please be sure to submit verifiable searches with jobs that actually exist and can be verified. Also, be sure to apply for positions in line with your abilities. It is fair to say that the stone mason who applies for a job as a concert pianist will be met with great skepticism by both the insurance company and the comp Commissioner. In short, work with your Connecticut work injury lawyer to facilitate the job search process. As in all things workers comp related, he or she is the expert that will help you navigate the system successfully and get you healed and back to work as quickly as possible.