Unsure about returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim? The timeline can be confusing, leading many injured workers to ask: When is the right time to go back to work after an injury?
At Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law, we help injured workers file Mississippi workers’ compensation claims after on-the-job injuries. Below, we offer our advice for returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim. If you have questions about your own work injury case, please contact our office for a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney on our team.
When Should I Return to Work After a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You should only return to work when you feel ready and your doctor has advised that it is completely safe. After you file your workers’ compensation claim, you may find that your employer and the insurance company repeatedly push for your return to work. This makes sense from a business perspective because the sooner you go back to work, the sooner they can reduce your workers’ comp benefits. But this approach doesn’t prioritize your health.
Your well-being is the most important thing to consider when returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim. Going back to work before you’re ready will only aggravate your injuries and lengthen your recovery period. Worse yet, your injuries could diminish your ability to perform your job safely. Taking on work duties before you’re fully healed could put you or your coworkers at risk of an accident. Some people even sustain more permanent injuries after they attempt to take on too much too soon.
To help you smoothly step back to your role, we’ve put together some tips for returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim.
Tips for Returning to Work After a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Before you jump back into the workforce, take the time to consider what’s best for your future. Speaking openly with your doctor, workers’ compensation lawyer, and employer will help you make an educated decision about returning to work after your workers’ comp claim.
Communicate With Your Employer
Keep your employer in the loop about how your treatments and recovery are progressing. Your employer has the right to know a rough timeframe for your return. And keeping lines of communication open can help facilitate a seamless transition back into your role after you’ve fully recovered.
However, don’t allow yourself to be pushed into going back to work before you’re ready. Be respectful, but inform your supervisors that you will only be returning to your position with your doctor’s full permission.
Get a Doctor’s Clearance
Never return to work if your physician advises against it. Your doctor will assess your health condition fully to determine when it is safe to go back to your job. They will be able to tell you when you have reached full recovery or maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Before your doctor can make a recommendation about your ability to safely perform your job, make sure they are aware of the full scope of your work-related duties. When you speak with your doctor about returning to work, inform them of:
- The details of your job position
- Your typical work hours
- How many hours you are required to be on your feet during a given shift
- If your job requires heavy lifting, climbing, working at heights, or other potential hazards
- The details of your work commute
- If you will be required to work overtime after you return
- Any residual pain you are still experiencing
- Any limited mobility that may affect your ability to execute work-related tasks
After you have reached a certain point in your recovery, your physician may recommend you return to work—but with some restrictions. If that is the case, ask your doctor to provide a document specifying the restrictions in explicit detail. This may include limitations such as no heavy lifting, reduced working hours, or seated breaks throughout the workday. You will need to provide your employer with this document when you go back to work.
Notify the Proper Authorities of Your Return
After you notify your employer of your return, there will be paperwork on their end that must be completed. Your employer needs to fill out documents that will be submitted to the insurance company and workers’ compensation board. It’s important that your employer is aware at this time of any restrictions accompanying your return. You should also receive a return to work form from your employer and their insurance company before you officially resume your regular schedule.
You and your attorney will additionally need to file a notice of return with the state workers’ compensation board. This must include the details of any limitations your physician placed on your ability to perform your job. As you prepare to take on your employment once more, be sure to keep your workers’ comp lawyer informed at every stage. If there is an issue with paperwork, your legal representative may need to take action to ensure your rights are fully protected.
Prepare a Return-to-Work Plan
As you are transitioning to life back in the workplace after having filed and received Mississippi workers’ compensation benefits, schedule a meeting with your manager or supervisor to discuss your return-to-work plan. This helps to ensure that there are no miscommunications about your abilities, restrictions, or expectations. A simple meeting to discuss your return can save a great deal of hassle and confusion in the future. It’s especially important to devise a solid return-to-work plan if you are still recovering from your injuries or are returning with any form of permanent disability.
A plan agreed upon by you and your employer should address issues such as:
- Your current health condition as determined by your treating physician
- Any restrictions your doctor has placed on your ability to work
- Medical devices or prescriptions you are still using to treat your injuries
- Any accommodations your employer will need to provide
- Any permanent disability and its impact on your capabilities
All of these details should be put into writing. Keep a copy of the document for your records. It’s a good idea to have this, along with notes from your doctor, on your person at all times when at work. If there is any dispute with a manager or colleague about your condition, you can refer to this agreement established with your supervisor. Any issues that continue to arise in the workplace should be referred to your workers’ compensation attorney.
Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law: Help for Injured Workers in Mississippi
Our personal injury law firm devotes an area of practice to advocating for injured workers in Mississippi. If you suffered an on-the-job injury, we are available to discuss your case. Contact Corban Gunn, Attorney at Law in Biloxi, MS to schedule a free case evaluation. We can review the details of your injury case and offer seasoned legal advice regarding returning to work after a workers’ compensation claim.