It’s been around a month since I fell at work. It was in the evening at around 9:15 on February 26th – over a month ago. I was walking to the bathroom after break. The floor was sopping wet. There was no “wet” sign. BOOM! My feet flew out from under me, my left foot stuck, so that as my body flew forward, my left leg bent back. It was like watching a soccer injury in slow motion. I heard a snap, crackle, or pop, and then I was on the ground in pain.
The initial feeling was just sort of surprise. I tried to get up, but fell back down. There were some janitorial staff – two females – walking along and I called out, “Hey,” until they noticed. They helped me to my feet and I continued to limp to the bathroom. (Hey, I had to go very badly, especially after falling. It shook a lot of stuff loose.)
Anyhoo, end of story, I fell at work. I immediately reported to my supervisor, they wrote it up, and I was suddenly thrust upon the wonderful world of American healthcare and workman’s comp.
I’d heard about workman’s comp, but never knew much about it. I’d never really been hurt at work. I realized enough that if I fell at work, due to the negligence of their cleaning staff not marking a “wet” floor properly, that they had to pay my medical bills. It seemed so simple.
At first, I wasn’t that sore. I felt a little sting around the knee. As the night wore on, the sting grew and grew until I couldn’t walk on my leg at all.
My supervisor let me leave early to go to an emergency room. As I left the parking lot, walking very gimpy and lopsided, I thought going to an emergency room was extreme. I was sure I could just walk it off and it would feel fine in a week or so. I used to be very much the jock, and when I was hurt in the past (my younger days) I’d just walk it off. But, as I drove up the highway the pain kept growing, and I realized maybe I did need to go to an emergency room.
By the time the doctor could see me after two hours waiting in a busy emergency room, they needed a wheelchair to take me around the various areas for x-rays and such. My leg was in pain and I could barely walk.
They sent me home after taking three x-rays (no MRI), with a long brace that covered my entire leg and crutches. The doctor left instructions for me to get an MRI in a day or two.
Guess what? The doctor he told me to see and get an MRI with would not see me. “Sorry, this is a workman’s comp case. We don’t deal with that. Goodbye.”
I still haven’t had an MRI. My leg still hurts. It’s just not the same and when it swells I put ice on it, and when it hurts I put a heating pad. I wear a smaller brace when the pain is too much, and I need to walk long distances. I use the crutch also if it’s hurting. As time goes by, I don’t really need the crutch, but that pain is still there. I have osteoarthritis, I found out. I figured that out. I also know a fall could cause it to act up. My concern is if something else is damaged.
The reason I haven’t gotten an MRI to find out what might be hurting is that the workman’s comp insurance adjuster tells me they still haven’t approved of it. Weeks went by, after I signed the paperwork, and he told me that he didn’t have medical records. So, I went and got the medical records (I had already sent him the signed papers to get on his own 10 days prior) and paid $14 to simply FAX them to him within five minutes. It wasn’t difficult.
But, he’s dragging his feet at every turn. He went on a vacation for a few days during the first two weeks of my injury and no one knew what was going on with my case. He’s very snippet and blase. “Well…” is how he starts every sentence with his long Texas drawl. “We just don’t have enough information to go on and….” Another excuse.
Every osteopathic surgeon or sports injury specialist turns me down when I ask to be seen simply for an MRI, simply for an evaluation to know what’s wrong with my knee. The information he says is missing. Their answer when I ask? “Sorry, we don’t handle workman’s comp cases.” When I finally found someone who would work with workman’s comp they told me the claim’s adjuster said the case had still not been accepted and so they can’t do anything until it’s accepted.
So, what do I do? I honestly don’t know other than to file a complaint with my Ombudsman and possibly hire a lawyer. There’s this part of me that thinks others will do the right thing. But, I’m naive like that. Insurance companies only want to make money. Company’s that we work for only want to make money. Employees really don’t matter. That’s the cold hard truth.
It’s not that difficult, in my mind, to simply do the right thing. I’m not looking for a free ride. I don’t mind working. I’ve never shirked work. I’m wanting to make sure the fall caused by a negligent work area has not caused me permanent damage, or ongoing damage. I’m pretty sure with an MRI and a proper diagnosis I can take care of my leg and that’s the end of the story. That was my hope.
But I have fallen down the workman’s comp loophole. It’s a set-up to make sure company’s do not have to pay workers when they get hurt on the job. They can’t sue the company. They are stuck in this never-ending loophole of the adjuster needing “more information” to move forward, until a person just gives up. Us poor saps who need to make a living cannot sit around our apartments waiting for them to pay us for time lost. We have to work and so we go back to work and just let this slide. That is why they keep dragging their feet and never responding. They want people to give up pursuing getting their pay and payment for doctor visits, or proper treatment. They want us to just go quietly and not bother them. It’s how they make their money. They’re still charging the company to pay into their workman’s comp insurance, but they’re not delivering to the employee or the company.
I just hope this gets cleared up. I have a friend who had a similar situation and she didn’t get it all settled until a year passed. She had a lawyer too.
I’m hopeful, though, that this will work out. I still have that small bit of hope.
On a brighter note, my friend is touring China and I am loving all the photos she sends me. She’s sent me all kinds of wonderful little gifts and is a real sweetheart. She’s my best fan! Stay safe Gracie!!! Mwah! 🙂