Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities When Returning to Work After a Workplace Injury
One of the most common questions that people ask after being injured on the job is when they have to return to work. Returning to work after a workplace injury can be difficult. You may not be in the same capacity that you were before or may be unable to perform certain job duties. Understanding your rights and responsibilities is critical to protecting yourself and your recovery.
At Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP, we represent people who have been injured on the job in Los Angeles. We understand that this may be a confusing and challenging time for you and your family. We are here to help. Let us provide you with the high-quality legal services you deserve. Contact our office at (213) 232-4848 for a free, confidential consultation.
Who Decides When You Go Back to Work
It's important to understand that your employer's workers' compensation insurance company is motivated to pay wage replacement disability benefits for the shortest period possible. Their priority is to get you back to work as soon as they can while ensuring that you are healthy enough to perform your duties safely.
However, it's crucial to know that only a medical professional has the authority to determine when you have recovered sufficiently to return to work. Your doctor will assess your condition and make the final decision about when it's safe for you to resume your job responsibilities.
What to Do if You Are Forced to Return to Work
If you feel that you are being forced to return to work, you need to consult with an attorney. An employer should not pressure you to return to your job if you have not been cleared by a doctor. If a doctor has cleared you, but you are unsure whether you should return, you can seek a second opinion.
When You Should Return to Work
After a workplace injury, you might be unsure of when you should return to work. Regardless of your situation, it is essential to know that you should not be forced to return to work until a doctor has medically cleared you.
You should return to work if:
- You have fully recovered from your injuries and have been cleared by your doctor; or
- You have not fully recovered from your injuries but have been permitted to return to work with restrictions; and
- You have spoken with your supervisor and informed them of any restrictions or conditions for your return to work.
If your employer fires you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim after an injury on the job, you may be eligible to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. You should always consult with an attorney if you sustain an injury while at work to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation available.
When You Shouldn’t Return to Work
Returning to work before you are cleared by a medical professional can impact your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits or financial recovery from a personal injury lawsuit. Only a doctor can clear your return to work, and it may be restricted. It is imperative that you follow the recommendations of your doctor to ensure that you do not suffer setbacks or re-injure yourself.
Specifically, if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you should not return to work until you have reached your maximal medical improvement (MMI). MMI occurs once your “condition is well stabilized and unlikely to change substantially in the next year, with or without medical treatment.” Once you have reached your MMI, a doctor can determine whether you should be medically cleared to return to work and under what restrictions, if any.
Get a Free, No-Obligation Consultation
Are you being forced to return to work after a workplace injury? Contact our office at (213) 232-4848 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of injured workers. Let us help you today.