I injured my arm at work and had surgery. My doctor closed my case with restrcitions and a disabiltiy rating of 11%. The doctor placed permaanent restrictions that specifically included me not to restrain inmates or participate in self defense training which is required by my job. As a result if this I will loose my job. I requested a second opinion and the workers comp said the only way they would approve it is if I disagreed with my rating, so that is what I did.The 2nd doctor said that he did not agree with the restrictions and that I could perform my job. My workers comp will not honor that they said that they paid him for a rating review not his opinion. They now want to go back and see if Dr. # 1 will change his restrictions.
What are my rights and what can I do? How can one doctors opinion cost me my job?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: Second Opinion
They're jerking you around. Under the law, you have an absolute right to a second opinion on the rating. The fact that the doctor also addressed restrictions is just incidental and not a basis for DOC to refuse to pay. While you may lose your job if it is outside the medical restrictions, you may be elibible for State long term disability (with medical insurance) even though you are able to do other work. You need an experienced workers' comp attorney to help get the best combination of benefits available.
Re: Second Opinion
Under 97-27 of the Workers' Compensation Act, you have a right, technically, only to a second opinion on the rating. Many doctors will not, however, restrict their opinions to just that one issue. Usually, this is a good thing, as most of my clients want the physician's full opinion on all the relevant issues. You can also always petition the NC Industrial Commission for permission to get second opinions on other issues, and they are routinely granted.
I would suggest you demand a third medical opinion with a reputable physician to break the tie. Even if you end up with permanent restrictions and cannot work, you will need to be paid temporary total benefits by the workers' compensation carrier while you look for other work within your permanent restrictions. (Other laws like the federal FMLA and ADA may help keep your job safe, at least for a little while. Call the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission for more info on these federal laws.)
In any event, you do need to make sure you have filed a Form 18 with the NC Industrial Commission within 2 years of your date of injury. You may also want to consider getting Form 33 (to get a hearing), Form 18M (to get additional medical treatment) and a Bulletin (general info on NC WC system). Go to the links secton of ncdisability.com to locate the Industrial Commission, EEOC and other websites. There you can download important forms and information you may need in your case. Good luck!
S. Neal Camak
Law Offices of George W. Lennon
Board Certified Specialist in Workers' Compensation Law
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