Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Medical evaluations key in workers' compensation cases

New Yorkers who have been injured on the job have two very important matters on their minds. The first is finding the financial stability their family needs, and the second is recovering back to health so that they can get back to work. The workers' compensation system seeks to provide financial relief while injured workers focus on reclaiming their health, but the matter can be complicated by a number of legal issues.

For example, the New York Workers' Compensation Board provides an 81-page document that spells out the medical evaluation process for back injuries. Every step of the process is meticulously detailed, which may limit an injured workers' ability to seek the medical treatment he or she wants. However, those who know the law and how to use it to their advantage may be able to find ways to work within the system to find resolutions that meet their needs.

One important aspect of the medical evaluation process is the functional capacity evaluation. This test is meant to determine whether an individual's condition has improved enough to allow him or her to return to work. The test analyzes many factors, including a worker's range-of-motion, endurance, coordination and even employability.

The evaluation may include a number of tests, such as a musculoskeletal screen, a cardiovascular assessment, an examination of one's lifting capabilities and an analysis of one's visual and cognitive abilities. While the results of these tests may be mostly objective, the interpretation of how they affect working ability may be a little more subjective.

Therefore, when looking at medical evaluations taken either before or after workers' compensation has been awarded, individuals need to make sure they are questioning it and using it to their advantage. Failing to do so could result in unwanted consequences, such as a denied claim or a cessation of benefits.

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