Re-injured after Returning to Work? Here's What Sufferers Should Know
Those who have experienced work-related injuries often want to get back to work as soon as possible. While some injuries prevent this, injured employees desire to return to work since it offers them a sense of meaning and direction.
Returning to work also means that they can receive a steady income instead of relying on workers' compensation. While workers' compensation benefits can help pay healthcare and financial expenditures while a person is recovering, they can't replace a full-time wage. However, anyone who has been seriously injured on the job is advised to wait until they have fully healed before returning to work, or they could risk getting re-injured.
Need a Workers' Compensation Lawyer? Larrimer & Larrimer Is Here to Help
Anyone who is injured at work has a right to receive workers' compensation benefits. Workers who return to work before they've been permitted to do so may have a hard time receiving a workers' compensation claim. It's advisable to hire a workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible to acquire legal counsel on the best course of action.
The skilled and experienced workers' compensation attorneys at Larrimer & Larrimer are here to help injured workers with their workers' compensation claim. Injured parties can also ensure that their legal rights are protected and have any questions about a settlement answered. Contact Larrimer & Larrimer for a free case review today!
How to Tell When It Is Time to Return to Work
Those who sustain a workplace injury should wait until their doctor has approved this before going back to work. If they aren't mentally and physically prepared to face their job responsibilities, they risk being hurt again—possibly even worse than before.
When returning to work, the doctor in charge of the case should ensure that the injured worker is healthy enough to do their job without jeopardizing their health. A workers' compensation attorney can also assist injured parties in weighing the benefits and drawbacks of returning to work, determine whether they are still eligible to receive workers' comp benefits, and understand how long workman's compensation lasts.
The Dangers of Injured Workers Returning to Work Too Soon
Regretfully, in many workers' compensation cases, the company's interests may conflict with those of the injured worker. Most firms, for example, prefer to have an injured worker return to their duties as quickly as possible. However, for a number of reasons, this may not be in the worker's best interests.
People who have been hurt while working should wait until they're fully recovered and physically capable of handling the demands of their profession, or they may risk further injury, which can result in the injured employee never entirely recovering.
When an Employer Pressurizes Injured Workers to Return to Work
Should an employer pressure an employee with a work-related injury to return to work before their doctor has approved this, it is essential to consult with a skilled workers' compensation lawyer immediately.
Some companies may convince their employees that they won't have to return to perform all their job duties if they return, while others may make vague threats about having their employment terminated if they don't return to work right away.
Returning to work before fully healing can have two major long-term consequences. This includes losing their job and, subsequently, their temporary total disability benefits.
Losing Their Job
Even though the employee and their employer want them to return to work, pressuring a doctor for medical clearance or returning before they're physically capable can end up hurting not only their health but also their workers' comp claim. Returning before an employee is ready may leave them unable to fulfill their former job duties, resulting in the company terminating their employment.
Lost Workers' Compensation Benefits
This means that the injured worker would no longer be receiving workers' compensation benefits for temporary total disability. The injured employee will also be in less-than-ideal physical condition while looking for new employment. Therefore, a full medical clearance should only be accepted by a doctor if the victim is sure that he or she has reached their greatest level of recovery.
Are There Any Advantages to Returning to Work?
Returning to a busy job life may actually help an injured person recover more quickly. However, this is only if they have recovered fully. Going back to work will, without a doubt, boost their earnings and the perks that come with it.
People may have buddies at work, and having those friends on their side can greatly assist their mental health, which is often affected following a personal injury. Furthermore, if the worker was scheduled for a raise or promotion, being absent from work can slow or halt that process entirely.
Be Wary of Insurance Company Strategies to Get Workers to Return to Work Early
All documents relating to a work injury are subject to scrutiny by the relevant workers' compensation insurance company. Clinical case managers (typically nurses) who work for the insurance company will go over the documents related to the case. Case managers have a history of approaching the treating physician to query or contest the necessity for treatment or the capacity to return to work.
While the attending physician has the right to keep an injured worker from going back to work, the insurance provider can exert much pressure on them. If the insurer disagrees with the physician, the worker can have an Independent Medical Exam (IME) with a specially selected workers' compensation physician to get a second opinion on their job and health status.
What If an Employee Refuses to Return to Work?
An injured worker might not be ready to return to work at all, or they may not want to do the light-duty work their employer is offering. Workers have very few alternatives if they have been given permission to return to work and refuse to do so.
The Effects on the Workers' Compensation Claim and Job Status
In such cases, their worker's compensation benefits will be terminated and the claim closed. Additionally, the employee may lose their job if they fail to show up for work on the planned release date determined by their physician. Generally, failing to show up for work is considered job desertion. Anyone who deserts their job will also not be eligible for unemployment benefits.
People Who Have Been Injured on the Job Have the Right to a Second Opinion
Injured workers have the right to obtain a second doctor's opinion on their eligibility to return to work. However, they may be required to pay the doctor's fees out of their own pocket. They can request a hearing with a state's workers' comp board if there are opposing opinions, such as a worker's personal physician disputing the claims made by the worker's comp doctor.
Consult an expert workers' compensation attorney if there are differences in a personal doctor's assessment of a person's capacity to perform at work or if a worker is mistreated because of their work limits.
Can a Person Be Fired If They Do Not Return to Work Fast Enough?
The truth is that employers despise having to pay workers' compensation. Workers whose employers keep their position for them until they can return to work are lucky. If an organization has a workers' handbook that outlines how workers can return to work following a workplace injury, employees should be sure to read through it thoroughly. Sadly, this is unlikely to be the case at smaller businesses, which rarely have such documentation.
Workers Can Be Terminated If They Have Not Filed a Workers Compensation Claim
Unless employed on a contract basis, an employer can terminate an employee for nearly any cause. However, they can't fire someone because they filed a workers' comp claim. Employers may accuse an injured worker of poor past performance or claim that their department or company has to be downsized or reorganized.
Usually, the company's insurer offers a settlement in such cases. The settlement offer is almost always significantly less than what is required to cover medical expenditures and lost pay. Companies can use it as a justification to terminate an employee's workers' comp benefits if they refuse.
When this happens, workers are advised to contact an experienced attorney from Larrimer & Larrimer to determine whether they are still eligible to receive workers comp.
Understanding Work Restrictions
Job limits or restrictions imposed by the treating doctor, in most cases, represent the difference between the type of work an employee did before the accident occurred and the type of work they were able to do throughout their rehabilitation.
Sometimes the constraints are only temporary, such as work restrictions imposed after surgery that can be eased gradually when the person heals fully. However, depending on the extent of the injuries, a worker may be compelled to adhere to these constraints for the rest of their working life. The sections below discuss these types of work restrictions in greater detail.
Work restrictions are limitations imposed on an injured person so that they do not re-injure themselves when returning to work. An example of a temporary restriction is a restriction on the weight that a person may carry following an injury to their arm muscles.
However, as the person recovers and they regain the use of their arm, their doctor may adjust their job restrictions to reflect the ability to lift heavier weights.
Work restrictions that address any disabilities or permanent impairments that have arisen from a work-related accident often describe permanent changes that must be made to a person's duties.
This could imply that a worker won't make the same amount of money in a new role as they did before the accident. Workers' compensation benefits will cover most of the gap between the former and new wages in this scenario.
Examples of Work Restrictions
Work restrictions ordered by a treating physician may include:
Avoiding heavy lifting - typically, a weight limit is specified
No squatting or kneeling - for knee or back injuries
Light work only - specifies the minimum effort required to perform a task
Modified work - a worker may resume their regular duties with a few changes
Sedentary work - limitations to the amount of work done while walking or standing
Emotional restrictions - requires an employer to avoid placing the worker in a stressful situation
Restrictions to work on uneven ground - typically imposed for foot, leg, back, or knee injuries
No heavy work - restrictions on physical activities
What Employees Should Do If They Are Re-injured on the Job
Suppose a person is injured a second time after returning to work, either because their injuries did not heal correctly or because they were compelled to perform duties that their work restrictions prohibited. In that case, they should seek immediate medical attention.
After that, the employee should let the employer know that they've been injured once more. Finally, and as soon as possible, injured employees must contact a reliable workers' compensation lawyer in Columbus.
The attorney will try to have the treating physician changed or obtain an independent medical evaluation as proof of the worker's inability to work. A lawyer can also contact the employer to have the previous job restrictions amended due to newly identified medical restrictions.
Need a Workers Compensation Lawyer? Contact Larrimer & Larrimer
When things go wrong, and workers are injured while on duty, their lives can change forever. Their injuries can result in lost wages and mounting medical bills, and employers and insurance companies often have their own interests in mind rather than that of the injured party. This is why choosing a law firm with experience dealing with work-related injury cases is so important.
However, with so many workers' compensation lawyers to choose from, victims may be wondering why they should trust Larrimer & Larrimer to handle their case. Here are a few reasons to choose Larrimer & Larrimer:
Clients receive a free consultation to discuss their case with a reliable attorney
Larrimer & Larrimer attorneys pride themselves on maintaining a respectful attorney-client-relationship with every client that walks through the door
Injured parties can gain access to decades of experience in occupational injuries
Contact Larrimer & Larrimer to book a free consultation and case review by dialing (614) 820-1855.