The following is a Maryland injured worker's account of his ongoing struggle following his injury.
The author's name is Jerry.
There was a time, not so long ago, there was a hard working, honest person. The kind of person who would help anyone. The kind of person who served on the Board of Directors for Big Brother, Big Sisters, Daybreak Daycare Center for Senior Adults, served of the Counsel for the Aging and helped to start recycling in my town. I worked hard in Movie Theatre Management field for over twenty years. I started a new job at the new flagship theatre for a major theatre chain. Never in history was a movie theatre like this one. It had everything, state of the art presentation, full first class food and beverage service and more. One day after a job fair, I fell flat on my face and did major damage to my ankle and foot. At first I didn't think it was not all that bad, ( I have been hurt at work, play and home before, you go to the hospital, they put an air cast on it and give you pain pills and say go back to work in three days). I did, like I have always done, no big thing and went back to work, because I wanted to. I went to training out of town for three days, the pain got so bad, I called home and asked my other half to get me to a foot doctor, ASAP! When I got to the Orthopedic doctor, the first thing he said after he looked at my foot, was " What in the Hell are you doing on that foot!" He put a hard cast on the foot and wanted to be off work for two months. I say I cant and was there any way I could continue to work, for it was a new job and I was needed at work badly. He said it would be OK, with work restrictions and take pain pills as needed, but do not drive on them. After sometime, I couldn't keep up, because the job required being on your feet for long periods of time and long hours, which I could not do on my work restrictions and the pain. I was let go ( fired) because I could not do the work I was hired for. I don't have hard feelings, because I really could not do the job. The " Nightmare Begins"..chapter one ends.
The Adventures in CompLand
Wait! If I may, I need to go back a few weeks before I was fired. After the cast was removed from my leg, my doctor wanted me to go to physical therapy. One day I befriended a fellow patient, who was a nurse who had hurt her back at work moving a patient. She asked if I was seeing a lawyer. I said no I was not and why she asked. She went on to explain to me, that I did not have many rights under the WC laws in the State of Maryland and I should get a lawyer to represent me. I remember thinking to myself at that time.." I have a job and why do I need to hire a lawyer "OK..hold on, here we go..zziipp..The day after I was fired, I was back at physical therapy and there was my friend, the nurse. I told her what had happened to me and I did not understand how they could fire me. She was probably thinking to herself.." I told that dimwit " but we have become friends and did not say anything, instead she gave me the name and number of the lawyer she was using. Thus, the Adventure Begins, Note: This part may not be suitable for children under 13..rated PG13..The following contains.. anger, depression, blood, guts and stuff. Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk..Lawyers 101. Do you need a lawyer? The answer is Yes! Where do you find a good lawyer? The answer is Shop! Lawyers are like everyone esle, there are good ones and bad ones. Do your homework, asked questions, play dumb ( I was good at that one ) but do your homework! Once you have found a good lawyer let him/her explain the WC law and your rights. How is he/she getting paid? How much does he/she think you will be awarded? Each step you will need to take and how long? Once you feel comfortable and you HIRED the lawyer, let them take the first steps for you, with a watchful eye. Lawyers 102, While the lawyer is starting the legal process, try to learn as much as you can, here is a few ways how..Research, Research and Research.. Investigate, Investigate and Investigate. Surf the web, talked to other lawyers..the Key is Knowledge!
Why reinvent the wheel, like I say earlier, surf the web. There are some great articles out there. One comes to mind that I read from a link on this site.. Living Through Workers' Compensation by Mike Weldon. The Website is called Injured Workers 4 Change. Please go take a look at what he wrote and come back here. Because I live in Maryland, some of the laws here are different. Each State have different laws. That is why it's so important to get a good lawyer in your area. I will only deal with my experience with Maryland. What I hear from others, in different States, we do not have it so bad here. Do not get me wrong, Maryland needs lots of improvement! Maryland is called, An Employer Friendly State. What this means, the employer has the right to let you go, if you can not do the job that they hired you to do..period. If you look at their side, I can understand that, because it happened to me.( Please note: at anytime you need a break and a laugh, the webmaster and I came up with a humor page, go to main page and go down on the right side bottom and click.) We hope you enjoyed it. Back to business..What rights do you have? Very little my friends, W/C have very strict formulas they use. You are in for a fight from the very get go and this is only the beginning! If you are really injured, you and your lawyer have to prove it. If you have disabilities, you have to prove that. At this point, we need to break out, your injuries, your disabilities, and the employers insurance company and you and your lawyer. Remember W/C has strict formulas.Part 3..continue..until the next saga..here's a little something. Life is great if you know how to live. To live is divine for the one who is kind. For the one who is kind, the sun will shine. If today is dark, do not give up. For tomorrow is another day.
Knowledge Part 3, The Nightmare Continues
A: Injury: You have been hurt, you have been to your doctor and you have been to your attorney. The foundation is set to go on with your case. Now the games proceed, I mean games, like ping-pong! Your doctor in the ping pong table, on one side is your attorney and his doctor and on the other side is the insurance company and their doctor. The game starts before you go to Court / WC commission. The bottom line, (at least in my case), Your attorney's doctor gives you a high disability rating. The insurance's company doctor gives you a low disability rating and your doctor gives a totally different rating. Note: keep track of all your mileage, if you are back to work, lost time and/or wages, are not paid, only mileage. The above can happen more than one time as your nightmare continues. Your disability rating is a big part of the W/C formula format. The higher your disability rating is, the more benefits you will receive. The court gathers all the information and determines what your rating will be, to start. What treatments, pay and what ever it will take for you to get back to work. If your injury is so bad that you can not work, they will work that out, also. Different strokes for different folks, so it goes. Please remember, this is only the beginning. There are other factors figured in from the W/C formula. If you are not back to work, time is on your side, take advantage of it..Research, investigate and learn as much as you can about your rights. As I continue this story, the ping pong ball will bounce, back and forth.. Watch the game and may the best man win the first round.
"Nightmare" - The Adventures in CompLand
To this point, I have tried to lay down a foundation. A little background information, a little Comp 101 and some knowledge. From this point on, we will get into the heart of my story. I guess I have been putting off writing this part, because this is going to be hard for me to put it down in writing. So much has happened and so much is happening to me. You will understand why the humor page was created, we will need it. I am going to continue with giving you knowledge and education, but in a more detailed manner. Subjects like Anger, Depression, Pain, Doctors, the System or Lack of, down out Confusion (a little spelling humor there), and more on Disabilities. I am going through all of these as we speak. There has been so many cases, in my case, of ball dropping, , it's unbelievable! It's like being knock down to the ground and the W/C system keeps kicking and kicking you, with no stopping. You can yell and no one hears you, until now! If you are reading this, you can see you are not alone. United maybe we can make a difference. This time as I continue to write my story I will stop and try to break out, key factors of the story, at the end of the each chapter or saga. May the force be with you and see you the next time. Come back ya hear!
"Nightmare"..The Adventures in CompLand, The Break out!
After your first court date a few things could of happened. In my case the W/C Commission ruled on my side. I have a very good lawyer and the court system in Maryland was fair. It's what happens later that is not fair and it's not the court system, it's the laws and guide lines that they have to follow. If you are really hurt and can not do the job that you have been doing for years. The State of Maryland does not want to re-train you. They use what is called the Vocational Rehabilitation System. The VRS that the court appointed for me, was a joke. I am not saying all VRS's are bad, just this company, yes company, a private group hired through the court system to help me find employment. From the start this company dropped the ball. This is only part of the beginning of my anger and depression. As I continue my story, I will add new and different documents to support my story and maybe help you use them as an idea.Kenneth M.
With regards to the Vocational Assessment Services report dated 08/25/00, I would like to clarify and extrapolate on said report I will try to follow the same format as referred to as Rehabilitation Specialist (RS) with my response.
A full assessment of my case needs specification from the beginning of the process. I feel that Vocational Assessment Services, Inc., in the pass, had some periodic personnel problems from the start I was tested in a crowded library by a person I would never see again, because it was her last week of employment with Vocational A. Services (VAS). I was very uncomfortable with the environment and the person testing me. I was informed after the testing that a new RS would be assign to me and I would be hearing from my new RS soon.
A meeting was set up at your office, with the RS and you. You could not make the meeting, but you had an associate there to represent me. Needless to say I didn’t do well on the test
From that point on... sometime went by before I made contact with the new RS, a meeting was set up at a restaurant We hit it off well; he made me feel with my background and qualifications, it would be no time before I would have a job. A second meeting was set up at the Maryland Employment Service, where we went over my resume We then opened up other qualifications for different jobs, HR being one of them. We also had a meeting with the Veteran services. He started to re-write my resume and then some more time went by and I didn’t hear anything from him, so I called him. He said that he was no longer employed with VAS and that I had a new RS and gave me his name and phone number. A meeting was set-up with my newest RS, again he encouraged me. He re-wrote my resume and cover letter In the cover letter, he stated my work requirements and an incentive for the employer to hire me After I sent out numerous resumes, I notice that I was getting fewer results than before he re-wrote my resume. I tried to contact him with this information and again I found that he was no longer employed by VAS I went back to using my old cover letter and I was getting better results. My newest RS contacted me and we had a meeting. He agreed with me that the cover letter was all-wrong and that VAS does not offer incentives for employers. He also was moved with-in the VAS and I would yet be assigned to another person, Aisha .
This brings us to the present and the reason that I am writing you this letter. I would like to note that not once did I receive a call or interview for a job from the efforts of VAS.
From this point on I will refer to Aisha as the RS. The RS stated in the report dated 08/25/00, that she did an extensive job search on the behalf of me. That four resumes and cover letters were sent out to perspective employers. I believe that she did, but than she states that a number of attempts were made to contact me and no conversation was made before the letter was sent This is not true I did have a conversation with the RS before I received the letter, saying that she was sending the letter and what it was about. After receiving the letter, I sent the information she requested, (note; this was the first time that I was asked for said information for the whole time that VAS was contracted).
Here is the correct information about my employment at the American …. My pay rate is $13.50 per hour. I do not hold a job title at the American …, except for being a Temp. It could be long term, but there are no guarantees that I would become an American&hellip. employee. I do not have any benefits what so ever. I am receiving on the job training, for at lease two months.
The RS said that she contacted the adjuster and the adjuster was impressed with the encouragement and motivation that she gave to me. I would say that this RS did do more than the others did, but in no way did she, or the others help me get this job or any jobs.
I have contacted Jane and ask her to ask you, if you would handle the correspondence with the RS and the VAS. I have just received another letter today 09/16/00 from the RS for me to contact her, please advise me on what to do
The hole ordeal and experience has taken its toll on me, both emotionally and physically. A once hard working, proud manager for over twenty years, now a Temp. I’m not complaining, I’m happy to be working again! I just thought that a professional company and myself could have done better. I’m talking about money, not my job at the American…., because it is helping people in need. My way of life and ego has hit an all time low.
I believe that Vocational A. Services, Inc. could have done a much better job, at getting me employment That the above statement was cause partly by them and I did all I could do to find employment
"Nightmare", The Break Out, Continued
If it looks like I am jumping around, it's hard not to. What I'm trying to do is break out different parts of the W/C system. The best way for me to do that is use one subject at a time. Remember I'm still going through the court system. The last chapter and documents was the Vocational Rehabilitation break out, from start to almost the finish. My last court date two weeks ago ( today is 2/27/01 ), was my last battle with them, that we won, at least the monies part. The court/ insurance Co., agreed to pay for my on the job training for eight weeks, ( I started my job on 8/28/00 ). Nothing in this world will pay for what they put me through. My ego, the stress and anger. Their reports to the parties involved were lies, for twenty months I did not get one call from any protential employers, because of their efforts. Everyday I was looking for a job, checking out the Want Ads, sending out resumes' and I had quite a few interviews and alot of rejections. Note: I documented all my contacts, kept all my rejections letters in a file.I have work restrictions and disabilities, so that made finding a different type of work, even harder and I could not do the type of work that I have been doing for years.
Again I need to say that I am still in the W/C loop, jumping through the W/C hoops. Let's jump back to the beginning again for a different break out of ball dropping in my case. We are back to after the first court date in the start on 1999, My injury was in ( 11/1998 ). I was fired in ( 1/1999 ). At that time I was still in physical therapy, and I was receiving my W/C pay at my full wages for a set period of time, after that it would drop to half of my wages I also thought I still had my health insurance with my former employer. I made an doctors appointment. When I made the appointment, they check and I had insurance. The day before going, I called to make sure all was fine, and guess what? I no longer had health insurance. I called my former employer and they said.. whoops, we forgot to send you the Corbra Option paperwork. I asked them, isnt it the law to inform me and they said yes, but all they could do was work out monthly payments.They were over two months late telling me this and my wages were than at half and there was no way I could afford it now. I could have got a different lawyer and sued, but to much was already going on and I would have to pay that lawyer out of my own pocket and my pockets were empty. One more time, I was being kicked and punch and I could not do anything, so it goes. I will once again I will document the mess up, to follow. Keep checking back, because it get worse, but please do not get depressed, there is some light at the end of this story.