Not every workers’ comp claim requires you to take time off of work. Sometimes, you can receive treatment on the day of your injury and be back at work the very next day. Other times, your duties at work may be adjusted to accommodate your recovery.
No matter what you’re dealing with, our guide should be able to help. Let’s get started!
Who Decides Whether or Not I Stay at Work?
When you sustain an injury at work, many people will cooperate with you to determine the best course of action. Ultimately, the decision on whether or not you can stay at work is made by a few different people. They include:
- Your doctor
- Your supervisor or manager
- Your workers’ comp claim administrator
- Your attorney (if you choose to retain one)
Having an attorney can be instrumental to ensuring everyone is on the same page. All parties involved must communicate extensively about your work environment, your medical condition, and the kinds of work you are capable of doing after your injury.
These same principles apply even if you take some time off before returning.
Adjustments for Recovery
If you are cleared to keep working or return to work, your physician and claim administrator must clearly define what you can and cannot do. Anything you cannot do is considered a “work restriction.” For example, if you can no longer lift heavy objects, you may have a work restriction that forbids you from lifting over 25 pounds, and your job description should be changed accordingly.
Sometimes, adjustments must be made within your working environment. If you have carpal tunnel, for instance, your employer may have to provide you with a special mouse pad before requiring you to work.
If your employer is not able to, or refuses to accommodate you, you will not be required to perform your previous job.
Returning Without Restrictions
If you return to work without restrictions, your employer is required to give you the same job and pay you had before you were injured. Without work restrictions from a physician or claim administrator; however, you must accept this job and all its duties, and you can be penalized for refusing to work.
What Can I Do if My Work Restrictions Are Violated?
If you do return to work with restrictions, you are allowed to reject any tasks that violate them. Be sure to show your employer your doctors’ note and document your refusal in writing.
In the event that your employer retaliates, you are protected under California Labor Code section 132a, which forbids discrimination against injured workers. An attorney may be able to help you enforce this.
If your employer cannot meet your restrictions and does not have work for you, you should be covered under temporary disability benefits.
Can I Go Back to Work Without a Full Recovery?
If your injury results in a permanent disability, your employer can choose whether or not to offer you work. If they do, the work should be modified to accommodate your work restrictions or provided as an alternative to your previous position. If they do not, you should receive a “voucher” that makes you eligible for permanent disability benefits.
What If My Employer Is Not Cooperating?
Returning to work after an injury can be difficult, and employers don’t always follow the rules. To keep everyone honest and protect themselves, some injured workers choose to hire an attorney.
At the Law Offices of Andrew B. Shin, we have more than 25 years navigating workers’ comp claims and are confident in our ability to stand up for your rights.