If you have work related injuries and receive workers’ compensation benefits, at some point a doctor may release you to return to work light duty or with restrictions. When you get this news, you may be concerned. It’s common to ask yourself questions, and wonder what, if anything, you can do.
Concerns About Returning to Work After Being Injured
You may worry that your employer will not follow the restrictions set by the doctor. Or you may be fearful that you will have another workplace accident and re-injure yourself. This can be a scary and challenging situation.
However, if a doctor has cleared you to return to light-duty work (or work with restrictions or part-time work), and your employer has a job available for you, then generally you do have to return to work.
Advice for Returning to Work After an Injury
After you’ve had an accident in the workplace, getting back to work is often tough. But I always advise people that if a job is available, they should return to work and do the best they can. This does not mean you have to make your injury worse. You do not have to do activities that cause too much pain or cause you to re-injure yourself. You do not have to do activities at work that are beyond the restrictions set by the doctor.
Communication with your boss and doctor is incredibly important. If you need a break for rest or ice to reduce pain, ask for it. If the employer asks you to do something beyond your restriction, politely inform the employer that you cannot do the task. Most importantly, if you are worried about what is happening at work, let your doctor know. If necessary, you can get in touch with a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you understand your rights.
Tips to Avoid Losing Your Weekly Benefits
- Remember that if you take yourself out of work without a note from the doctor, you will lose your weekly benefits.
- You should continue to work unless a doctor says that you can’t.
- If your employer says that it can accommodate the restrictions and the insurance company asks you to return to work, but you refuse to return to work, you risk having your weekly benefits terminated.
- Take notes. Write down what your employer is asking you to do, particularly if you think it is inappropriate.
- Also keep extensive notes about how you are feeling during the workday.
- Call your doctor and/or get an appointment if your pain is getting worse
- If your employer sends you home because you are unable to work, let the insurance company know right away.
The Bottom Line
If your doctor has cleared you to work and there’s a job open to you, no insurance company can “make” you return to work, but they can stop paying your weekly benefits if you don’t return.