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