by Keisha Lewis, Director of Safety and Compensation
I suffered a Traumatic Injury at Work, What should I Do?
(reprinted from the Jan-March 2011 edition of the Union Carrier)
Unfortunately with our job being so physically demanding, we are prone to get injured on the job. As a letter carrier you should know what your rights are, when you are injured. All employees of the United States Postal Service are covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). This means that TE’s and PTF’s are also covered. FECA is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP), United States Department of Labor (DOL).
FECA provides that employees who suffer job-related disabilities due to a traumatic injury (CA-1) are entitled to the following:
a. Continuation of pay (COP) for the period of the disability, up to a maximum of 45 calendar days, for a traumatic job-related injury.
b. Compensation for wages lost as a result of job-related injury or disease or illness.
c. Medical care for disability due to:
(1) Personal injuries sustained while in the performance of duty.
You will need to fill out a CA-1 to establish an initial injury.
A CA-1 form is used to establish a traumatic injury. A traumatic injury is defined as: a wound or other condition of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain. The injury must be identifiable as to time and place of occurrence and member or function of the body affected, and caused by a specific event or series of events within a single day or work shift. An example of a CA-1 injury would be, ‘On October 1st at 1 p.m., Sue Smith was delivering at 777 John St. and was attacked by a dog, which caused her to injure her back.’ The injury occurred on a single work shift and she can identify the place and time the injury occurred. The following is a recommended checklist for workers who are injured due to a traumatic injury:
• Report the injury to your Supervisor immediately.
• Fill out a CA-1 Form. If management enters the information into the computer system, and prints you out a CA-1 to sign, you do not have to sign their CA-1. You have the right to fill out your own CA-1. Management may put inaccurate information on the form that they have typed for you and now they want you to sign it! Fill out your own CA-1 form and inform management that you would like a copy of the CA-1 form they have generated.
• Request a receipt for your CA-1. That receipt is your proof that you submitted your form.
• Request a CA-16 to receive medical treatment from your own choice of physician. You have the right to choose a physician or hospital of your choice for treatment. Request that your supervisor authorize medical treatment by issuing you a form CA-16. You must provide your supervisor with the name and telephone number of your physician. The CA-16 authorizes your doctor to provide treatment. Management must promptly authorize medical treatment by issuing the employee a properly executed Form CA-16 within 4 hours of the claimed injury. If management gives verbal authorization for care, Form CA-16 should be issued within 48 hours.
• You have a right to seek medical treatment from your own doctor. You do not have to continue medical treatment from THEIR contract doctor. EL 505 states: If the employee does not select a physician, refer the employee to the USPS contract medical provider for diagnosis and initial evaluation, advising the employee that he or she may select a physician of choice after initial evaluation by the contract medical provider in accordance with ELM 543.1 If the employee is to be examined by the USPS contract medical provider before seeking treatment from a private physician or hospital, ensure the following:
•The examination is performed promptly following the report of the injury.
• CA-16 is provided for the private physician of choice, within 4 hours of the injured employee’s reporting of injury.
•The USPS examination in no way interferes with or delays the employee’s right to seek a prompt examination and treatment from a physician of choice. A lot of carriers call me for advice after they are stuck with the contract physician. You have a right to see YOUR own doctor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
• Always request COP if your disability causes you to lose time from work. FECA provides that an employee’s regular pay may continue for up to 45 calendar days of wage loss, due to disability and/or medical treatment, after a traumatic injury. The intent of this provision is to avoid interruption of the employee’s income while a case is being adjudicated. If management sends you home indicating they have no work available for you during your COP period, you can request to be paid COP.
• Request a Form CA-20 (An attending physician report). If your doctor states that you are not capable of returning to work after your injury, your doctor should fill out the CA-20. In claims involving COP, medical evidence supporting disability resulting from a claimed traumatic injury, including a statement as to when the employee can return to his or her date-of-injury job, must be provided to management within 10 calendar days after the employee files the claim. Most of the information that your physician will have to provide is found on the CA-20.
• Request a Form CA-17 (a duty status report). If your doctor releases you to work with medical restrictions, he/she should complete the right side of the CA-17. In the next Union Carrier we will discuss occupational disease or illness (CA-2). *Always visit our website for updated information regarding the most recent developments in Safety and Health issues.