Why Injured workers want to return to work

returntowork

For whatever obscure reason workcover case managers are drilled and brainwashed time and time again to believe that just about all injured workers are up to no good and are only looking for a free holiday. I always tear my hair out at this sickening and totally unsubstantiated statement.

As we posted under “myths”:

Injured workers are all frauds and are looking for a free holiday.

The actual number of injured workers who are frauds are less than 1%. No one with any sense would choose to stay in what injured workers call workers compensation hell.

We have a saying:Injured at work, disabled by workers compensation. In my workcover hell, I lost my dominant arm, my health, my savings, my income, my freedom, my car, my career, my hobbies and my dignity.

Most of us, if given a choice, would much prefer to be treated under our regular health insurance. I’d almost give my other arm just to get those scumbags off my back!

Why Injured workers want to return to work

Sure, there will always be a handful of rotten apples, and they seem to ruin it for everyone, but for the most (as in 99%) part injured workers just want to get back to their normal life and routine.

Let’s face it, when you are injured, you are in pain (whether physically or emotionally or both), you are receiving much less money than you are used to, and spend your time being dictated to travel back and forth to doctor offices for examinations and treatment.
Even in the worst case scenario where let’s say a grossly exaggerated 10% of claims are found (by insurers) not to be “legitimate” (not fulfilling criteria/twisted into per-existing conditions etc) would leave a whopping  90% of injured workers just looking to heal and to get back to pre-injury status.
Some injured workers even heal or return to work quicker than expected. And why would that be, huh?

Loss of income

Probably the most important factor for an injured worker wanting to go back to normal duty is the income they receive.  There aren’t many people out there making ends meet on workers comp weekly pay.  Typically they receive a percentage of the income they are used to receiving, ranging from 80% to 60% of their net income.

Even in dual income families, this loss of income can be substantial, especially those that are living from pay to pay, and carry mortgages etc.  Case managers should not be surprised when their injured workers are in a hurry to get back to normal.

I know of many cases where the injured worker has been/is adamant about making the doctor return them to work, and the doctor will indicate in the notes that they are just retuning the patient back to full duty because that is what the injured worker requests. Hell, I have done it a few times, out of desperation and our of duress and stress (unable to cope with the persisting harassment of my case manager who would not allow me a breather). Needless to say that injured workers (and case managers and employers) should be very careful about the real possibility of further injury and things should be reviewed and assessed on a case by case basis.

Most light/suitable duty jobs are usually boring if not demeaning.

Employers are supposed to design light duty work so that exacerbation or worsening of an existing injury can be avoided. Some injured workers are allocated  to work in janitorial duties, phone responsibilities etc. Now, if you take an injured worker that is used to a complex job day in and day out then place them in one of these light duty jobs, the days are going to seem like they are taking forever.  After a few days or weeks of this, the injured worker is going to be so bored and probably aggravated that they will do whatever it takes to just get back to normal work.

The injured worker is bored when sitting at home

Sitting at home in an empty house with nothing to do can be even worse than light duty.  There is only so much daytime TV one can stomach.  It is no coincidence that most  law firm commercials run during the morning and afternoon, when injured workers would be home while disabled from work.

The vast majority of workers like working, or at least need to work for income, and even though sitting at home for weeks sounds great it is indeed not so great (read: terrible) after a while.It’s not like they can do whatever they want. They have no money, they have become socially isolated and many have succumbed to depression.  In fact this is what will land most workers in trouble, because once boredom creeps in they start to spiral into the cycle of despair, or, other start doing something outside to take their mind off of being at home, and if a PI happens to have surveillance on that certain day this can land a injured worker’s case in big trouble due to them breaking their medical restrictions, whether it be on purpose or not. I mean so man of us go ape at home, days, weeks, months on end…is it a wonder we desperately try to DO something, even something stupid like hopping in the car you are not supposed to drive and go to a beach to chill? Many of us go nuts.

I have heard a lot of injured workers telling me they just cannot sit at home any longer, and want to return to work. Interestingly how this is so conveniently never reported in the media or in workcover reports, huh?

Injured workers are new to being on workcover and, initially, have no idea how the “system” works, and what they are supposed to do. But they learn quick. They soon discover they hate the way they are being treated by workcover, their case manager, they do not like treating with the occupational doctor, hate attending all those dodgy IMs, and they hate sitting around and waiting on a paycheck to come in the mail that may take weeks to come once the claim investigation is complete.  In fact, we know of a few injured workers that have had a legitimate work injury denied and choose to cover the bills from their medical care another way.  This is especially true if they, or their spouse have had a messy workcover claim in their past.  They are so jaded about how the process works that they will avoid it at all cost.Again, this is also never reported.

Litigation nightmare

Taking this one step further, some injured workers have heard horror stories about being on workcover, and being embroiled in a years-long litigation battle, with mounting lawyer fees and a life filled with misery. One just needs to read through a couple of stories shared on our site… and yeah… wouldn’t you rather run than lodge a workcover claim?

The injured worker just heals faster than expected

Some people just heal better and quicker than others.  This is due to conditioning, genetics, the type of injury, the location of the injury, the severity of the injury, and so on.  If the uneducated case manager thinks that it can take 6-8 weeks to heal from a back strain, and the injured worker is released to full duty in 3 weeks, this doesn’t mean that they are just (solely) in a rush to get back to gainful employment.  If the medical checks out, and the treating doctor signs off on it, then so be it. Again, this is also not reported.

There are probably a lot more factors to add to the reasons why injured workers want to return to work as fast as possible, but I thought that the above 6 were the most important ones, but feel free to add more!

Point in case: this should prove that all workcover claims should NOT EVER be placed in the “bad-free holiday” category. 

Perhaps our pathetic case managers should spend one minute and put themselves in our injured shoes.

Our injured money is not the same, we are in some sort of pain, our job tasks have changed, we are dealing with unfriendly, harassing, un-trusting, retaliatory, bullying case managers, IMEs and rehab providers. We are in uncertain waters and worry sick about our future.

The natural  response to all that is to get back to whatever they think is their normal life as soon as possible, so we, injured workers, can put this all behind us.

What would you do, dear case manager, if you were placed in the same scenario?
[Post dictated and manually entered on behalf of WCV]

 

 

6 Responses to “Why Injured workers want to return to work”

  1. I really really miss working and the stimulation, positive feedback, adult company, and small income it once provided. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss my bully infested workplace, I miss working and feeling like an independent autonomous adult, instead of the chronically sick,impoverished, dependent, helpless being that I’ve been reduced to by the Workover. In our society, work is the only doorway to financial independence and an ongoing sense of meaninful participation in the world. Who wouldn’t miss that once it has been taken away so brutally. P.S. I also miss my brain all the times that it’s not fully available to me, all the times my condition is exacerbated by the Workover.

  2. ALLIANZ you wouldn’t give a tinkers cuss with  my return to work but i worked it out for myself but i thank you for your 4 and a bit phone calls and all your computer generated letters and mmm 10 or 11 or even 14 case managers and 5 emails and mail that wasn’t meant for me  ,three and half years out here in the real world with no help, but ALIIANZ would it be to much to give your boofheaded mate bazza back money that you charged him for the so call management of my case .

    Na i don’t think you would do that because i think you would tell porkies to hold on to money that you have scammed or is it fraud mm but maybe you could be an organisation that is totally out of whack with what you are to provide injured workers hey ALLIANZ there are 10 commandments floating around here somewhere maybe you could use this as a start and if you do use em ill let bazza know that you having a go

  3. I would do anything to return to the career I was really good at. I have have many job offers while injured, based on my previous ‘can do’ nature & my ability to do a job to the best of my ability & then to also teach those around me. But as my serious condition started to improve, my treatments, medications & weekly income was cut off. I continued to pay for my treatments & medications until my savings ran out. Quite awhile later, I am in more pain, more meds & more confusion about how I can find a way to support myself. I will get back to some type of work cause Im good at what I do, but when you cut off the treatments that were helping, the support that was helping & your employer sacks you, it does become a downward spiral.

    Why was I cut off? MONEY, pure & simple. I have lost my independence, my friendships & family relationships are strained & my life has become reality shows & becoming friends with fellow injured workers (that’s the good part!). I have said 100 times, it’s not for the money, it was never about the money – what it is really about? Having treatment to improve my condition so that I can earn my own money!

    There are some people who take advantage of any situation & they give injured workers a bad name. But there are also bad Dr’s, bad lawyers, bad CM’s & bad WC employee’s who give WC a bad name. I wont the system to ‘weed’ out the bad injured workers, but to do that, they need to weed out the bad Dr’s, lawyers, CM’s & WC employee’s first!

  4. It’s true. I was so willing to retun to work I was doing work well below my skill level. I accepted that was due to my limitations. As my injuries are still unstable I experience aggravations. Usually due to repetitious work. That is exactly what my employer provided for me. Knowing full well that was not in my program. They pleaded ignorant but that’s ok. Instead of walking off the work place I made an attempt to alter my work so I could get through at least a month. Now I need some time off to settle my unstable injury. Whilst waiting for another return to work conference and nerve block. My casemanager always asks me how I’m feeling. Has done nothing to help me out. Hard working for my employer. Every morning when I go to work knowing what I have to face each day I wonder “why am I putting my body through this? ” is dedication to your profession worth it.

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  1. @Dargan66 - October 6, 2012

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