At some point after your injury, your doctor may say that you can return to work. It is critically important that you remember the following points:
- You should advise your doctor in detail what your job duties are. You should then ask your doctor whether you need any restrictions on what you do when you go back to work. For example, if your job requires you to do heavy lifting, you should ask your doctor whether he or she believes you can do heavy lifting.
- If the doctor says you have restrictions, you should get a written note from the doctor describing those restrictions. You should then provide a copy of that note to your employer and keep a copy for your own records. If your employer does not honor the restrictions when you return to work, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
- When a doctor releases you to return to work, with or without restrictions, your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier must send you a form entitled Notice of Ability to Return to Work with the doctor’s release before they can offer you a return to work. If you receive a return to work offer before you receive a Notice of Ability to Return to Work form, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
- If a doctor says that you can return to work, but you feel that you are not well enough to return, you should contact a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
- Very often a doctor who you see for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) will indicate that you are capable of working at a greater physical level than your own doctor, and the employer will choose to offer a return to work based upon the IME doctor’s restrictions. If this happens, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney immediately.
- If a doctor releases you for a return to work and you simply do not go back to work, you will jeopardize your rights to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
- When you return to work, your employer or the insurance company may ask you to sign papers regarding your case. They may tell you that you are simply signing to receive your final check. These documents will affect your rights now and in the future to receive wage loss benefits and get medical bills paid. DO NOT sign any documents without having a workers’ compensation lawyer review those documents first.
When it comes to workers’ compensation, a return to work will generally mean an end to benefits.
It is important not to return to work until you are fully recovered and a medical professional has determined it is safe to return. Returning too early can increase your risk of re-injury or complications and can make it more difficult for you to heal fully. If there are problems with workers’ compensation benefits, such as late checks, or if you are considering returning to work because you feel pressured to do so for any reason, contact a workers’ compensation attorney before returning. If a doctor has cleared you for work but you do not agree with the assessment, contact an attorney. You can always reach KBG Injury Law to schedule a free consultation.
Read more about workers comp injury at our workers’ compensation information page.