Getting Back to Work After an InjuryJanuary 7, 2021
Getting injured on the job can be very frightening. Fears of long-lasting pain and how to pay the bills can be daunting. The Workers’ Compensation insurance program is designed to allay these fears. While the program is no substitute for work, it does cover medical related bills and partial salary for a period of time.
Deciding when to return to work can be unclear for many employees. There is no clear-cut deadline that is easy to know and understand. Every work injury is different, and each person’s rate of healing and recovery is unique to them.
There are two overriding concerns that must be balanced. Injured workers who intend to return to work for their employer should maintain a good working relationship with them. Injured employees also need to avoid returning to work too early.
Listen to Medical Advice
While feeling better after an injury is a really good sign, it is a poor indicator of when it is safe to return to work. The decision to return to work needs to be made consistent with the advice of a trusted treating physician. A doctor treating a patient for a workplace injury must document progress and note their opinion as to whether or not their patient is able to return to work. The doctor will know the nature of the work that was done pre-injury and evaluate the degree of recovery. The opinion rendered is called a Workers’ Compensation disability rating.
If the patient is being treated by a physician of their own choosing, the insurance company may require the patient to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). The IME serves as a second opinion regarding the extent of injury, recovery, and ability to return to work.
A doctor also makes a determination as to the degree of recovery achieved by a patient. At some point, the doctor’s opinion will be that the patient has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is when the injury has healed as much as possible and no further improvement is expected. It is possible to return to work prior to achieving MMI. For example, even when still recovering, an employee may be released to return to work. It is most likely the release will be under certain limited conditions. For example, restrictions, such as a modified work schedule, light-duty, or seated-only work, may be deemed necessary.
Should I Remain in Contact with My Employer?
Maintaining contact with the employer will reassure them that their employee fully intends to return to work as soon as possible. If changes are necessary upon return to work, then advanced notice is beneficial.
Sometimes, an employer does not want to or is unable to provide alternate scheduling, light duty, or other restrictions recommended by the treating physician. They may try to fire the injured worker to avoid having to be inconvenienced by satisfying recommended work restrictions. Some of these actions could be violations of the Workers’ Compensation law in Pennsylvania.
Media Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello
Our Media Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello are ready to assist injured employees. For a free consultation, complete our form or call us at 610-892-4940. Located in Media, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster, Montgomery County, Norristown, Philadelphia, Reading, and West Chester, Pennsylvania.