New year, new you, but same old work comp insurance companies when it comes to exercise for injured workers

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Many people start or renew exercise programs at the beginning of the year. But, a return to the gym means workers compensation insurance blogs will be dusting off posts about supposedly disabled injured workers getting caught performing feats of strength at a gym or health club.

Of course, it’s easier for the insurance industry to spy on injured workers through social media. Social media is a fact of life and I’ve explained why I am okay with my client’s using social media. Some lawyers are less accepting of client social media use. When you read about injured workers losing workers’ compensation benefits or even being criminally charged for things they posted on social media, I can see why other lawyers don’t want their clients using social media.

So if injured workers feel the need to start an exercise program over the new year, it’s best to keep it off of social media. It’s also wise to consult with a doctor or physical therapist about exercise.

But there are many good reasons why injured workers should exercise if they are able. In my experience it isn’t just good for physical health, often physical activity, if done the right way, can benefit the workers’ compensation case of an injured worker.

Here is why I think that is so:

If you’re doing physical therapy or rehabilitation, you’re already exercising – Many injured workers go through physical therapy. That physical therapy often requires injured workers to do strengthening exercises with a therapist and to do exercises at home. If you are complying with your physical therapist’s orders, that facts tends to weigh in your favor with a judge deciding your case. But the opposite can also be true.

If you’re not completing your physical therapy, you are probably hurting your case – A lot of lawyering consists of checking proverbial boxes. One box that insurance defense lawyers like to check is an injured worker who doesn’t complete their physical therapy. From my perspective, I’m willing to listen to my client about why they didn’t complete their prescribed physical therapy. But absent a good explanation or other favorable evidence, a judge may look at the failure to complete physical therapy as evidence an injured worker is exaggerating their injury.

Improvements in your health tend to help your case – Workers’ compensation cases depend largely on how judges read medical records. What the judges read depends on what doctors write in those records. A few keywords or comments from a doctor can sink a case. But an injured worker who tries to be physically active within the confines of their physical restrictions tends to get the benefit of the doubt from their doctor. Physically active injured workers also tend to display positive results on their medical records on measures like pulse, blood pressure and weight. Showing improvements in those vital signs is something to which doctors will pay attention to and often note in their records. I believe judges tend to those kinds of injured workers the benefit of the doubt in contested cases.

Physical activity can help sustain an award of future medical care – One benefit available to injured workers in Nebraska is future medical care. In my experience many injured workers get done with their medical treatment and get released without an order for medical care. Doctors are reluctant to order medication and some workers don’t find medication helpful. But certain activities, like water exercises can help manage pain. If that type of exercise is ordered by a doctor as a result of an injury, an injured worker could get something like a gym or health club membership ordered by a court. But again, a worker needs to show a record of complying orders from doctors and physical therapists if they want benefits like health clubs and exercise equipment ordered through workers’ compensation

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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