Life has been dramatically different in so many ways since the shutdown started. One of those ways is that businesses have been forced to change the way that they operate. Restaurants have relied exclusively on take-out and curbside service, some store managers have limited the number of customers allowed in their store at one time, and many doctors have evaluated patients by utilizing tele-medicine or “tele-med.”
If you have injured yourself at work, you should strongly consider taking advantage of tele-med. appointments in order to receive treatment. By using your cell phone, I-pad, or laptop, you and the doctor will be able to see each other. Just as if you were face-to-face with the doctor, you will provide a history by explaining to the doctor how you injured yourself, what symptoms you are experiencing, and the medical treatment (if any) that you have received for your injury.
The doctor obviously cannot put his or her hands on you but nevertheless can conduct an examination. If you have a back injury, to help assess your condition, the doctor will ask you to do a number of things just as if you were in the office – walk a few steps to observe if you limp, touch your toes to gauge your range of motion, and lift your legs up, one at a time, while sitting to see if you complain of pain to your back or legs. Although the doctor cannot test your reflexes or palpate your back to determine if you have spasm, the doctor can gain valuable information from a modified exam.
Based on the history and exam, the doctor will provide you with treatment recommendations, which may include physical therapy. The doctor may also prescribe medication and order a diagnostic study, such as an MRI. During the coronavirus crisis, many MRI and physical therapy facilities have remained open, taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their patients. Staff members will wear masks and gloves, wipe down equipment, and enforce social distancing as much as possible.
We tell you this because if you are unlucky enough to injure yourself at work, the insurance company for your employer will give great weight to the reports of your doctors and results of your diagnostic studies in determining whether to accept or deny your claim. And if your claim is denied, you will need a lawyer to file a petition on your behalf which will be heard by a workers’ compensation judge. The judge will carefully consider what conditions your doctors have diagnosed with you and what diagnostic studies they have relied on. So if your doctor at a tele-med. appointment orders an MRI for your low back which you undergo and it shows herniated discs at two levels of your spine, there is a much better chance the insurance company or judge will conclude that you are disabled from your job and therefore entitled to workers’ comp. benefits.
We fully understand that during this difficult time, safety is paramount, and we don’t want you to do anything to jeopardize your health, or the health of your family members and other people you interact with. We just want to stress to you the importance of seeking medical treatment if you injure yourself at work. A tele-med. appointment with a doctor from the comfort of your home can get you started.
At Pearson Koutcher Law, workers’ comp. is all we do. Before the shutdown, during the shutdown, and after the shutdown, we do nothing but fight insurance companies on behalf of injured workers. So if you sustained an injury before the COVID-19 crisis changed our lives, or since, please contact us, and one of our experienced lawyers with expertise in workers’ comp. law will speak with you, answer all of your questions, and represent you in your claim.