Getting hurt on the job is painful, scary, and stressful. Your employer is legally obligated to carry workers’ compensation to protect you when this happens. Your medical expenses and lost wages should be paid while you recover.
But what about when you’re ready to return to work? It’s rarely as simple as showing back on up on a Monday and clocking in. Here’s what you need to know.
Ask About the Return to Work Policy
Before you go back to work, talk to your employer about their return to work policy — if they have one. They may have a system in place for accommodations, temporary light-duty work, and other procedures. If they don’t have one, this might be the time they need to create a policy.
Your employer has all the incentive in the world to get you back to work. The quicker you’re back on the job, the sooner workers’ compensation stops paying your lost wages. But knowing what the plan will be can ease some of your own stress about what happens next.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
There are two important things to remember about the doctor’s instructions:
- If they release you to go back to work, you have to go back or risk losing any continued workers’ compensation benefits. Yes, you have to do it even if you’re not sure you’re ready to go back yet.
- You and your employer need to follow any restrictions your medical provider places on your ability to work. If you’re supposed to sit, sit. If you’re not supposed to lift anything over a certain weight, don’t. Your employer shouldn’t force, coerce, ask, or guilt you into doing more.
Take Things Slowly
It’s possible you might be ready to go back to work because you’re stressed about money or tired of being at home. You still need to ease back into things when you return. Pay attention to your injury and how you feel. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open with your employer and your doctor. No one should risk the chance of you re-injuring yourself. And if anyone can put the blame on you for the next injury, workers’ comp might not want to pay the claim. So don’t do too much at once.
Document Problems or Concerns
What should happen after a workplace injury is that you recover, go back to work with or without restrictions, and slowly get back to normal? Unfortunately for a lot of workers, this isn’t the reality. If you think you’re being treated unfairly, you need to document your experience. Make a note of what happened, who said or did it, and what day and time it happened.
Some examples of problems you should document include:
- Asking you to exceed medical restrictions.
- Acts of retaliation for being injured.
- Being told anything that doesn’t match the return to work policy or the parameters set when you came back to work.
When to Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you experience problems with your workers’ compensation claim directly after your injury or when you return to work, you don’t have to deal with it alone. You need someone you will look after your rights and your interests. A good workers’ compensation attorney can do that for you.
Contact an attorney in any of these situations:
- Your workers’ comp claim is denied.
- You feel your employer is retaliating against you for being injured.
- Your doctor, designated by the insurance company, isn’t listening to you.
- You’re being asked to exceed your work restrictions.
- Reasonable accommodations aren’t being provided even though it’s one of your job’s policies.
- Anytime you feel you’re being treated unfairly or not getting the care or compensation you deserve.
Getting hurt on the job can be traumatic, devastating, expensive, and a long road to recovery. Your employer has a legal obligation to help you, but it’s also the right thing to do. When you’re ready to get back to work, your job shouldn’t cause you even more problems. If that happens, find a workers’ compensation attorney who will fight for you. Contact Ed Bernstein and Associates today and let us help you.