What is the Purpose of a Functional Capacity Evaluation in an Auto Injury Case?

You were injured in a car accident and in an effort to understand the residual functional limitations and disabilities that can impact your life in the future, you are required to undergo a functional capacity evaluation. What is it though, and why is it so important to your case? Here are the answers to those questions.

What Is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A functional capacity evaluation, commonly referred to by its acronym FCE, is a series of standardized tests conducted by a licensed health care provider who is certified to complete these evaluations – often someone with extensive rehabilitative and physical therapy training. The tests are used to provide an evaluation of your physical impairment caused by the accident injuries. The required tests may be performed over several hours or over a couple of days, depending on the severity of the injury you suffered and the number of abilities that need to be tested.

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Tests of your physical abilities may be used to evaluate your ability to stand, sit, walk, crouch, step, reach, grip, climb stairs, or lift items from the floor. The evaluator will be looking for specific things such as whether you walk with a limp, can stand upright, joint and muscle flexibility, muscle tone, range of motion, strength, reflexes, and endurance. Sometimes, other injuries are identified that require additional medical imaging and evaluation by an orthopedist or surgeon. The evaluator will also go through your medical history as it pertains to your injury to collect information such as:

  • How your injury occurred
  • What treatments you've undergone for your injury and where you are in the treatment process
  • How much pain your injury is causing you
  • Which activities affect your symptoms

What is the Purpose of an FCE in an Auto Accident Case?

An FCE can be important in an auto accident case for two different reasons. Your lawyer may request one in order to evaluate the presence of permanent functional limitations or disabilities. Establishing that your injuries are permanent is important because it impacts the amount of compensation you can seek to recover. Some of the ways the results of your tests can be used in determining a fair amount of compensation include:

  • Showing that your injuries are preventing you from returning to work or returning to the previous job you had, resulting in lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
  • Showing that your injuries are causing ongoing pain and loss of quality of life.
  • Showing that your injuries are causing functional limitations that impact your quality of life.
  • Establishing the need for further rehabilitative services or ongoing assistance.

Just as the FCE can be useful for your lawyer in proving permanent impairment and related damages, an FCE is sometimes ordered by the at-fault party's insurance company in order to determine functional limitations. Because the FCE is performed by an impartial evaluator and the tests are standardized, there is little room for exaggerating the extent of your injuries. Some of the issues an insurance company may seek to resolve through the FCE include:

  • Whether your injuries are truly permanent.
  • If there are things you are able to do to improve physical function.
  • Whether you're able to return to work.
  • Whether you need to continue receiving medical treatment for your injuries.

Tips for Your FCE

If you've been asked to undergo an FCE, here are some tips to make the process easier:

  • Arrange transportation to and from the testing site, as testing can take several hours and involve physical activity and you may be tired when the testing is complete.
  • Dress comfortably for the physical tests, remembering not to wear anything that will inhibit your range of motion.
  • Bring any documentation that was requested at the time that your FCE was scheduled.
  • Be honest but open about the pain you're experiencing and the functional limitations these symptoms are causing in your life.
  • Let the examiner know what happened and talk about your level of function and activity before the accident.
  • Understand that the FCE is just one piece of the evidence your attorney is using to establish your claim.

Past Case Results

If you are involved in an auto accident, you will need a dedicated, experienced car accident attorney to effectively pursue a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible. At Whalen Injury Lawyers, we work closely with you to ensure you receive the support you deserve and the representation you rely on. Our personal injury lawyers have recovered over $25 million on behalf of our clients, including millions of dollars in car accident cases.

At Whalen Injury Lawyers, our goal is to secure fair and equitable settlements for our clients who are victims of a car accident. We work to establish direct, meaningful, trusted and reliable relationships with every client we represent. When you need an experienced legal team with a proven track record of success, contact us today. We’re happy to offer you a free consultation with one of our successful personal injury lawyers to discuss your legal options. Our Denver Tech Center office is conveniently located at 7955 East Arapahoe Court, Suite 2375 in Centennial, CO 80112. You can reach us in Denver by calling (720) 307- 2666. Our Colorado Springs legal office is located in the Alamo Corporate Center at 102 South Tejon Street, Suite 1100, Colorado Springs, CO 80903. You can contact us in Colorado Springs by calling (719) 644-7000. Give us a call today. We look forward to helping you get the fair compensation you deserve.

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