If you’ve filed a workers compensation claim in Florida, you may have been asked to participate in an “FCE”.
What exactly is an FCE and how could it potentially impact a settlement offer made by the insurance company?
What Is An FCE?
FCE stands for Functional Capacity Evaluation. This is a test requested by a physician to assist with determining someone’s current functional ability.
Often, the doctor requesting the FCE will do so because the patient is close to their Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This means that the patient’s work injuries have healed to the greatest extent possible. It does not mean that they have returned to peak physical condition or that they won’t require ongoing care for the rest of their lives.
This medical assessment is used to determine an individual’s physical limitations in relation to their capacity to do work. The series of medical tests administered could cover:
- Lifting ability
- Range of motion
- Physical strength
- Ability to walk
- Fine motor skills
The tests may take place over several days and will be administered by a medical professional, typically a doctor or occupational therapist.
The results of the FCE can help give insight to what future employment, if any, you may be able to return to depending on what you are physically able to do.
Do I Have To Participate If An FCE Is Requested?
Although you can refuse to submit to this exam, a refusal can severely impact your claim. If benefits are currently being paid, the insurer could use this as a reason to stop payments. To that point, an argument could be made that you have been medically non-compliant by refusing the evaluation. Ultimately, a Judge would decide if that was truly the case or not.
What To Expect During The FCE
Prior to testing, the examiner will have reviewed the request for testing, read through your medical records to determine how you were hurt and what treatments were performed, and read a description of the pre-injury job.
The description of the pre-injury job will help them to classify the job with the information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Classifications include:
- Sedentary (occasionally lifts up to 10 lbs);
- Light (frequently lifts up to 10 lbs, occasionally lifts up to 25 lbs);
- Medium (frequently lifts up to 25 lbs, occasionally lifts up to 50 lbs);
- Heavy (frequently lifts up to 50 lbs, occasionally lifts up to 100 lbs);
- Very Heavy (frequently lifts more than 50 lbs, occasionally lifts more than 100 lbs)
During the initial evaluation, the medical examiner will ask about your medical history and work injury. It’s important to communicate any limitations before beginning the physical parts of the exam.
During the testing, you may be asked to perform tasks like lifting objects, squatting, crawling, stooping, kneeling, bending, walking up and down stairs, pushing, and sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. If you experience pain or exhaustion at any point, notify the examiner.
Keep in mind that the examiner will be closely observing to see if you are putting forth the maximum effort in order to complete the tasks. There are usually some things that are monitored to aide with this, such as monitoring your heart rate to determine if adequate effort was being made.
Once testing has been completed, the examiner will prepare a written report, detailing their assessment.
The final report will include information that details the overall personal effort put forth during the testing, a summary of performance, a summary of physical limitations and the strength level of work that you are able to return to (no work, sedentary, light, medium, heavy or very heavy).
The FCE And Workers Comp Settlements
A workers compensation settlement is one option through which an injured worker in Florida can recoup their losses following a work accident. A settlement can be offered by the insurance company at any time and you can accept or reject any offer to settle.
The total amount that can be obtained in a settlement varies greatly from case to case. We always recommend seeking the advice of a workers comp attorney, as your case needs to be evaluated based on what you are expected to cost the insurance company going forward for medical treatment related to your accident and lost wages that may have to be paid to you.
Often, when the outcome of an FCE shows that an employee is partially or totally disabled, the insurance company will make an offer to settle. This occurs because, while a settlement provides a lump sum, it also usually releases the insurance company from any future liability.
However, if the FCE report indicates that you are not as limited as you claim to be, the insurance company may pull an offer to settle or greatly reduce the amount being offered.
The good news is that unfavorable FCE reports can be challenged with help from an experienced attorney.
Contact An Experienced Workers Comp Attorney Today
The best time to consult with a workers comp attorney is at the outset of your case.
Contrary to popular belief, consulting an attorney does not automatically mean that you are going to pursue litigation. Rather, it ensures that you receive expert legal guidance and representation right from the start.
However, it is never too late to start working with a lawyer.
If you or a loved one have questions about workers compensation claims, settlements, or FCEs—no matter how far your case has progressed—contact BDT Law Firm for your free consultation.