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Can I Be Forced Back to Work After an Injury?

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If you have suffered a work-related injury, you may be wondering if you are obligated to go back to work. In some cases, an employer may try to force you back to work before you are ready. This can be dangerous for your health and potentially lead to additional injuries.

Contact a workers compensation attorney at Collier Law for assistance with your workers’ compensation claim to learn more about workers’ comp benefits and your rights.

Who Decides When You Should Return to Work After an Injury?

The law divides your recovery into two different periods: pre-MMI and post-MMI. Pre-MMI means “pre maximum medical improvement,” or basically when you are in your rehabilitative phase. You may have just been injured or you may have just had surgery. Post-MMI means that your treating physician has informed you that you have plateaued; i.e. you are as good as you are going to get. 

There is a statute that covers return to work during these two phases. For pre-MMI work, the employer may propose a light duty job that does not have to be what you were doing prior to getting hurt. If that job is within your restrictions, with your employer, and approved by your doctor, then you should return and attempt that position. Always make sure your doctor has reviewed a job description and signed off on it before returning though. 

Post-MMI is different. You can no longer be forced back into a makework light duty position. The post-MMI job has to take into consideration your injury, vocational skills, education and experience. If you have permanent work restrictions and your employer does not have “suitable” work for you, you should be entitled to continue to receive temporary total disability benefits.  

Work Restrictions

Work restrictions are limitations that your doctor may place on you to protect your health and safety. These restrictions can include not doing the heavy lifting, working certain hours, or taking specific breaks. If your on-the-job injury has impacted your ability to return to work, you should discuss work restrictions with your doctor.

Light-Duty Work

If you cannot return to your job duties in their entirety, your employer may offer you a light-duty job that is within your limitations. This means that you can still work, but you will not do the same tasks as before. Therefore, if you are offered light duty, it is important to ensure the job is actually within your restrictions. This is discussed more above. 

What Happens If I Cannot Return to Work After an Injury?

If an injured employee cannot return to work after an injury, they will continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits help you cover medical expenses and lost wages. You may also be able to receive retraining or job placement assistance.

Benefits an injured worker can receive include:

Temporary Partial Disability Benefits – If you return to work but earn less because of your injury, the insurance carrier will have to make up the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages. 

Temporary Total Disability Benefits – These benefits usually last until you can return to work. You may either be written out of work or return to work with light-duty restrictions the employer cannot accommodate.

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits – Usually, the doctor will assign a permanent partial disability rating to your injured body part after your claim. There is a calculation to determine its worth. Contact Collier Law to go through these calculations and discuss getting a second opinion on your rating. 

If you cannot return to work, contact Collier Law today. We will help you understand your options and guide you through the process.

What If I Don’t Agree With My Employer and Workers’ Compensation About My Return to Work?

If you do not agree with your employer or workers’ compensation about your return to work, you may need to speak with an attorney at Collier Law. An attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process. We will help you get the information you need to make the best decision for your situation.

How Collier Law Can Help You With the Workers’ Compensation Process

If you or someone you love has suffered a job-related injury or illness, call an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Collier Law for assistance with your workers’ comp case.

You are so much more than a number to us: we value our attorney-client relationship and getting the justice you deserve. We are advocates for injured employees. Call for a free consultation to find out how we may assist you.