Understanding Light Duty Restrictions


Today, I was meeting with an injured client in my office reviewing the results of his Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) following his recent back fusion surgery to see what the future holds.  Often, a treating doctor will send a patient to undergo an FCE exam to help figure-out any future limitations after an injury and prolonged absence from work. The FCE is a physical test that takes hours to complete and assesses a patient’s ability to work by having them perform various tasks related to lifting, stooping, bending, and crawling in a controlled environment.

Believe it or not, every conceivable job in the United States is classified in a book that used to be published by the U.S. Department of Labor called the Dictionary of Occupational Titles which is still published online here.  It classifies each job as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy duty.  The book has been replaced with an online database called the Occupational Information Network.

Why is this important to you? Well, assume you were injured while working in a factory or in a car accident, and the question is whether you can return to your job. That answer will depend on what restrictions the doctor gives you.  Of course, you could be a “cowboy” and return to work beyond your restrictions, but you obviously run the risk of getting hurt again or worsening an already bad injury.

The FCE test assesses your ability to work assigning a duty status to see whether you are capable of doing your job and, if not, what else is there out there that you could do.  This is important to know if you have a personal injury case and there is a question of whether you can return to work or if you had an on-the-job injury.

Practice note for fellow attorneys: the provider that does the FCE can make a difference because the test has some subjective parts, so do your homework and work with your client’s treating physician before you allow your client to submit to just anybody to get an FCE.

Always be ready to face your problems in your life with a cool mind and without any depression.

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