If you were injured on the job in Georgia, it can be very difficult to pursue a workers compensation claim on your own. There are many rules and regulations governing workers comp in Georgia, and if you are not aware of all of the nuances of the law, you could prevent yourself from getting the compensation you deserve for your work injury. Often, injured workers are asked to undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation, or an FCE. Here are some common questions regarding this test.Physical Therapy
Q: What is an FCE? What will I be asked to do?
A: A Functional Capacity Evaluation is designed to determine whether or not you are ready to go back to work, and if so, document any physical limitations you may have. An FCE is performed by a physical therapist or a doctor who will test your physical capacity to lift weight, stand and sit comfortably, walk distances without experiencing pain, and perform range-of-motion tests. It is also used to educate the injured worker on the proper way to safely perform job duties, and to educate the employer on the worker’s physical limitations. Your results will be compared against how well you used to function and how others in your age range and job perform those tasks.
Q: How will the FCE affect my workers compensation case?
A: The evaluation can certainly affect how successful your workers comp claim is. This test will be the determining factor in calculating your future ability to work. If the results of the FCE determine that you will not be able to return to work for a certain period of time or even indefinitely, this information will be used to calculate how much money you will lose as a result of your injury. Alternately, if the evaluation clears you to to be able to work, even if you are still hurt, the workers comp adjuster can use the results of the evaluation to end benefits.
Q: Do I have to participate in an FCE?
A: If you refuse to undergo an evaluation, the workers compensation adjuster might deny the remainder of your claim based on your refusal to cooperate, so it is a good thing to explore all of your options with an experienced workers compensation attorney if you have been asked to undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation. An attorney can help you understand what the evaluator is looking for and how it can affect the value of your case. The results of an FCE can actually turn out to be in your favor, in many instances. If the evaluation shows that you are permanently injured and unable to go back to work, it will be difficult for the workers comp adjuster to deny you the proper compensation for your injury.
Q: Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation really an accurate way to determine if I’m well?
A: Not necessarily. An FCE is performed by a physical therapist or doctor who studies your response to physical activity in a subjective way. Everyone feels pain differently, everyone describes pain differently, and the results of an FCE don’t always determine whether or not you are truly well. In fact, a 2004 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information evaluated how well certain physical tests in an FCE determined whether or not an injured worker would re-injure him or herself in the near future. The study looked at workers compensation claimants who had recently undergone injury to their lower backs. Each had to perform the floor-to-waist lift task in a Functional Capacity Evaluation. Many of those who passed the floor-to-waist lift task ended up with another low back injury within the year, while many of those who didn’t pass the part of the evaluation experienced no recurring back injury. 20% of the workers studied experienced another low back injury within the year.
Be informed. Be aware. Be prepared.
Ty Wilson is a Georgia workers compensation attorney, with offices in Savannah and Atlanta, who provides free information to the injured and the families of the injured. Visit tywilsonlaw.com to order his FREE Georgia workers compensation “Special Reports” and to read his many articles and to watch his videos.
If you have specific questions for a workers compensation attorney in Georgia, give Ty at call 912-508-4711 in Savannah or 770-948-5454 in Atlanta.