Navigating Functional Capacity Examinations After a Workplace Injury

In New Jersey, employers must carry in force workers’ compensation insurance which provides coverage in the event an employee suffers an injury that arises out of, or in the course of, their employment. Workers’ Compensation benefits include medical benefits, temporary disability benefits, and permanency benefits. These workers’ compensation benefits are available regardless of whether or not the employer was negligent.  In other words, the injured worker does not have to prove that the employer did something wrong or failed to do something which caused the employee’s injury.  The employee is covered as long as the injury occurred in the course of their employment. 

Even when you hire a proven personal injury lawyer in North Brunswick, NJ, sometimes your employer will have you undergo a functional capacity evaluation (FCE) during your rehabilitation. This evaluation consists of a range of tests of your physical abilities and range of motion to help determine if you’re physically able to return to work. 

What Is an FCE?

An FCE is an assessment conducted to determine whether you are physically capable of returning to work following an on-the-job injury or illness. Often performed at the behest of the insurance company, these exams evaluate your readiness to handle the rigors of your job and its daily responsibilities. 

These tests can help identify how the injury you suffered affects your ability to do your job. Based on the results of this examination, you can return to work in either a limited or full capacity. In some cases, it can demonstrate that you aren’t ready to resume your usual duties and that you still require more treatment and time to recover more fully. 

What Does an FCE Involve?

Typically, an FCE tests whether you can meet your job’s mental and physical demands. For most workers’ comp cases, each evaluation is tailored to the individual’s specific needs and job requirements. These can measure any of the following:

  • Ability to Carry Objects
  • Overall Stamina
  • Physical Strength
  • Lifting Objects
  • Flexibility 
  • Range of Motion
  • Other Job-Related Duties

These exams may help to properly evaluate your current physical and mental abilities to handle the physical demands of your job as you did before your accident, but the results can also be misleading. Based on the nature of your injury and what your day-to-day work day consists of, their FCE is tailored to the specific duties of your job. If your job requires you to lift heavy objects and transport them from place to place, your evaluation will thoroughly test your ability to lift and carry. 

How an FCE Can Help or Hurt Your Case

An FCE which demonstrates your physical limitations can be helpful for you and your workers’ compensation lawyer in North Brunswick, NJ. This examination can help solidify your claim that you lack the physical capabilities to perform your duties or can only work in a limited capacity.

However, the FCE cannot duplicate the eight hours of physical exertion that comprises a typical work day, and as a result, the FCE can create a more favorable picture of the injured worker’s capabilities than what truly exists.  Many of my clients have reported muscle soreness and pain after an FCE and have advised me that they would not be able to sustain that level of effort on a daily basis. Insurance companies frequently utilize the results of the FCE as evidence that the injured worker is capable of returning to his or her regular work when, in fact, the results do not accurately reflect the worker’s capabilities. 

What to Expect From an FCE

When you arrive at an FCE, the examiner will have an understanding of your injury, your job duties, your current diagnosis, and your ongoing medical treatment. Armed with that knowledge, they will conduct a series of tests to measure everything from your balance, physical strength, sitting posture, range of motion, walking, and gross and fine motor skills. 

The examiner will monitor your progress throughout the process and make notes of your performance. If you start to feel your symptoms worsen, you should inform the examiner. The same goes for if you are physically unable to perform the test. 

The Important Takeaways About Functional Capacity Exams

A worker who is asked to participate in a Functional Capacity Examination for their workers’ compensation case needs a lawyer to help them understand the process. The Law Office of Edward P. Shamy, Jr. has represented thousands of clients and has ensured that they receive the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to receive. 

If you are seeking to secure and preserve your workers’ compensation benefits, contact the Law Offices of Edward P. Shamy, Jr. today.