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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Switching Jobs After a Workers Comp Injury

    Hello,

    I have never filed a workers comp claim in my life and this is all really confusing, especially the situation I'm currently in.

    So I have been using computers for quite some time. For the past 7 years, I have been in management...which did not require me to type and mouse constantly all day long. As a manager, I was only at my desk for part of the day.

    At my current job, it has been quite different, I have been at the desk, using my computer throughout my shift, for the past 4 months.

    There were times in past jobs where my wrists/forearms felt sore, but nothing a little break didn't help.

    However, at my current job, the problem has gotten worse to the point of numbness, pain, burning, etc. Mainly because I use the computer non-stop.

    Ultimately my doctor diagnosed me with Carpal Tunnel. She asked that I work under a modified work program just for 2 weeks while I see a specialist and attend physio.

    Here is where it starts to get confusing.

    I am in the process of potentially switching jobs. I may start a new job in as soon as a week. But my current employer has involved Workers Comp and recommended I file a claim for my injury.

    I feel like with a little physio, I should be fine. But what if my pain comes back at my new job...have I lost all benefits from the claim at my old employer...if I leave?

    The new job is double the money and will require me to be at my desk much less like my past positions. So I really want to take it. I'm just concerned that since I have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel, will I be stuck paying for any future treatment...or have to just use PTO if I take time off...provided I accept this new job?

    I guess my main question is what sort of assistance can I get if this injury shows its ugly head again at my new job? Have I completely shut the door for any future assistance if I leave my old job?

    Sorry for the long message, I just wanted to make sure I posted all details.

    Thanks a lot in advance for any help you all can offer. This whole process has been really confusing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,021

    Default Re: Very Lost

    Carpal Tunnel Syndrom is a CT/Cumulative Trauma injury.
    When you file the claim with the current ER, it will depend on how long you have worked there, the former ER could be enjoined in the claim... you current ER may not be fully liable for treatment/wage loss... but that isn't your problem. The ER's and IC's will hash that out.

    Changing ER's now, and filing a claim with your next/new ER certainly won't look good for you... though the same thing would be the case... the current ER would be liable... when the ER's hash it out. But if you are taken out of work due to the injury, then your next ER isn't likely to hold the new job for you while you treat.

    You may very well benefit from a course of PT... but you are capped at 24 visits PT/OT'/Chiro for the duration of your claim... except if you have surgery, then there can be additional visits.

    As your current ER is aware of the light duty restriction you are under by your treating physican now... and has recommended you file the WC claim... you are actually required to do so. The law requires you to file a first report of injury with your ER once you are aware the injury is industrial, or within one year of when a reasonable person would be aware of the injury. The ER is required, by law, to file the claim with their IC.
    [/QUOTE]I guess my main question is what sort of assistance can I get if this injury shows its ugly head again at my new job? Have I completely shut the door for any future assistance if I leave my old job?

    I'm just concerned that since I have been diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel, will I be stuck paying for any future treatment...or have to just use PTO if I take time off...provided I accept this new job?
    [/QUOTE]No, but you run the risk of not having any leave granted by your next ER. There are time requirements for FMLA leave as well... I think you need 1250 hours with your ER to qualify for up to 12 weeks unpaid FMLA leave. If you/ER fall under the FMLA rules.

    You may not be at the new job long enough to build up any PTO... you may have to rely on SDI, and that is only 12 months. If you take the new job, the former ER may be liable for treatment, but could petition for a medical only claim as you would not have wage loss from that ER.

    IS your current ER aware of your consideration to take a new job elsewhere ?
    How are you calculating the time when you will require treatment to your CTS ? That isn't something anyone can normally determine. CTS could flare up within a couple weeks, could be a couple of years.
    Your new ER would not be required to pay for time off to go to PT...nor is the current ER.
    It's very difficult to try to control some of these life issues...comp & medical issues being two of the most difficult.

    Actually, your treating physican is required to file a "Physicans First Report of Injury''
    See L.C.6409 which requires a physician who treats an employee with an occupational injury or illness to file a Dr.'s First Report, even if the EE fails to complete their portion. See also CCR 14003(a).

    This is especially true of cumulative trauma claims where most employees are unaware of the possibility. They think an on-the-job injury is only a slip and fall, a strain or sprain due to activity, and the like.
    There is even a case where both the EE and the ER did not think an injury was work related and the Reynolds case was used to bar the 1 year statute for filing. Thus, if you represent the ER, you would be well advised to suggest they send the EE a Claim Form.

    If the EE and ER have discussed it and the EE said he didn't want to file a Claim Form, if I were the CA, I'd suggest to the ER that they send the EE a letter confirming the conversation...along with Claim Form if the EE chnges his mind about filing.http://forums.workcompcentral.com/vi...d89eb54a8a71f1
    Last edited by BvIA; 09-27-2009 at 07:02 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    9,109

    Default Re: Very Lost

    no you have not lost your comp benefits by changing jobs.
    the policyholder is the employer and they will have coverage on your injury no matter where you eventually work.

    if you have a new injury then you file a new claim against the employer at the time of the injury.
    if you don't know whether you have a new injury, the doctors will have to give an opinion.
    Last edited by .SH; 09-27-2009 at 01:55 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Very Lost

    Thank you very much for the responses. I appreciate the help.

    So if I have Carpal Tunnel, then anything but Carpal Tunnel would be a new injury...is that correct?

    Sorry, I'm just trying to understand what a new injury means.

    Right now my Carpal Tunnel seems very light and I think I should be fine with a bit of physio and a change in work habits (e.g. taking breaks and stretching, etc.). But as BvIA pointed out, it could get worse at any time.

    I'm just going off of the last few years, I haven't really had any major flare ups until this job...when I started using the computer all day long.

    So if I change jobs...and I dont have issues for say a few months...but then it flares up again and I have to attend physio or see a dr again...does that mean my claim still covers me?

    Does it ever "expire"?

    Thanks again everyone!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    9,109

    Default Re: Very Lost

    you could have 6 carpal tunnel injuries for 6 different employers. every time you aggravate a condition it's a new injury.
    that's why workers comp is anxious to find out about past medical history. their liability is limited by the event. injuries are events - some events are industrial; others aren't
    sometimes it takes a doctor or a judge to decide these things. the difference between a exacerbation and an aggravation can be small and require a legal interpretation.
    Last edited by .SH; 09-27-2009 at 09:13 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,021

    Default Re: Very Lost

    So if I change jobs...and I dont have issues for say a few months...but then it flares up again and I have to attend physio or see a dr again...does that mean my claim still covers me?

    Does it ever "expire"?
    If you file a claim, no it doesn't expire... the treatment goes on as long as a physican can show medical necessity, per the treatment guides, and UR process. Even if you don't seek treatment for a extended period of time, you are still entitled to treatment, under these conditions. Even though WC is no fault, the EE/IW is still charged with proving the need for benefits requested.

    If you don't file a claim, then there is an 'expiration'... a SOL/Statute Of Limitations of one year... however that is based on the IW knowledge the injury/illness IS industrial, or that which a reasonable person would/should have that knowledge.
    CT/Cumulative Trauma injuries are probably the most difficult to place a actual DOI, and liability where there are multiple ER's. (other than psych)

    IMHO...what you are dealing with should be determined by a medical professional. Because you have not been symptomatic to CTS for the past several months doesn't mean it's not there, or should not be addressed. In not treating CTS when in the infancy of the condition is likely reason for so many IW's to experience the difficulties they do later on. And the casue of so much wage loss, and job loss.

    File the claim, see a physican. The claim will be investigated and you'll know where you stand...physically/medically, and legally.

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