Not unlike a lot of injured workers’, Robert Griffin, III (affectionately known as “RG3”), was released to return back to work — injuring his right knee in a December 2012 game. While the team doctor denied the star quarterback was released or “cleared” to return to work, it was obvious that RG3 returned on the field against Seattle. In that Seattle Wild-Card game, RG3’s injured knee buckled, and he is now suspected to be out for a part of, if not the entire, 2013 season.
Was the company or “team” doctor right? This begs the question as to whether the company doctor had the best interest of his patient in mind, or rather the employer and a profitable post-season. In my humble opinion, this medical clearance or release to return to work was short-sided by the company doctor and he disregarded the employee’s well being. It has come to light that RG3 now has a torn LCL and ACL. It is important to note that this 22 year old now has torn his ACL twice in less than 4 years.
In my workers’ compensation practice, I often see injured workers released to their “normal” or “full duty” jobs much too fast. In Georgia, workers’ compensation physicians compete to be on pre-approved list (called the “panel of physicians”) which is specific to the injured worker’s company. This list or panel is generally comprised of six (6) physicians, and the injured employee may be limited to this list. Consequently, the ethical line of loyalty may be blurred. In other words, does the injured patient or the company take precedence?
In many situations, the company doctors push the hurt employees back to work prematurely that often aggravate or worsen the work injury. In these situations, the injured employee invariably endures additional pain and is likely injured worse or misses additional time from work just like RG3.
If you have been injured on the job and you would like to explore your options, please contact Ramos & Law.