There may be times where, even though you are in a lot of pain, you decide to just to “grin and bear it.” Maybe because you don’t want to be seen as a wuss, or be demonised by your employer by submitting a workcover claim (see previous post: an injured worker’s perspective of a sick system for more information).
When you are suffering from pain due to a work injury, it’s not a good idea to just grin and bear it!
In addition to the physical pain you are really needlessly going through, you could also needlessly be hurting your chances to get the workcover benefits you may be entitled to for your injury.
The workcover system is there (or should be there) to help injured workers get the necessary medical treatment they need, and to compensate them for their loss when they cannot work.
However, in order to be able to show the extent of your work injuries, your medical records, including your doctors’ notes and “testimonials” as it were, need to contain the most accurate information about your current work-related injury and condition as possible.
A real case of an injured worker
A worker in a case recently decided in Victoria, learned this lesson the very hard way. He was a warehouse worker who seriously injured his back while lifting a box, and was diagnosed with a herniated disc. He received professional medical treatment, including prescription pain medication. When his case was heard, the amount of his compensation was lowered, because the defense (court) determined he was exaggerating his symptoms.
This decision to downgrade his compensation for pain and suffering was based on the fact that he claimed to be experiencing pain similar to when he was first diagnosed, yet he was not receiving any professional treatment for it like he had done previously. He was treating his pain with over-the-counter medication and stretching exercises. Because his home-made treatment was in such contrast to the professional, medical treatment he had received initially, the judge eventually concluded he was exaggerating his current level of pain.
If, in fact, this injured worker’s symptoms were not any better, but the only change was his not seeking proper, similar medical treatment, then it’s unfortunate that he lost out on some of the benefits he may have been entitled to, which he needed.
Just putting up with pain may sound like an heroic quality, but in a case like this it can be self-defeating.
Proper, reputable treating doctors and specialists are an injured workers best chance at recovery from an injury. And they also may be the best chance at showing the true nature of your injury and the pain you are suffering.
Unfortunately some injured workers also do exaggerate their symptoms and this is sometimes seen when it comes to assessing a final impairment assessment. It is never appropriate to be untruthful in your workers’ compensation case.
So when you are, in fact, suffering from significant pain from your injury, you do not want to risk being accused of not telling the truth, just because you decided to suffer through it on your own without professional care.
I must say that it is not always as easy as it seems to be and the way the workcover system is set up it’s a catch 22. In my own example I have on many occasions begged (if not forced) my treating specialist to clear me for work, even though we both knew that it was prematurely or unrealistic. Yet if I did not return to work,and the pressure was on, believe me, I knew I would be terminated. But if I listened to my treaters and did not return to work,or not full time, or at least not without the requested ergonomic aids, I was sure that workcover would terminate my weekly payments.
Mind you, just bear it in mind to try and be honest from day one – if it hurts, show that it hurts, else you risk to lose a lot later on.