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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

Re-injured after Returning to Work and Workers' Compensation Claim

Some employees might feel that they're ready to return to work after suffering work-related injuries, while others may be forced by their employers to resume employment. Returning to work without healing completely can increase the risk of injuries and also harm the employee's workers' compensation claim.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience successfully handling workers' compensation claims and protecting the rights of injured workers in Tennessee. They are experts at negotiating with insurance companies and have recovered more than $1 billion in compensatory damages for their clients.

Those who have suffered a workers' comp injury in Nashville, Tennessee, should reach out to the legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss their case and learn more about their rights.

What Are the Dangers of Returning to Work after a Workers' Compensation Claim?

What Are the Dangers of Returning to Work after a Workers' Compensation Claim?

The employer and its employees' interests may not always align, especially when a worker suffers injuries while carrying out their job duties. Most employers want their employees to start working immediately, right after their workplace accidents.

Returning to the workplace right after filing a workers' compensation claim may not be in the best interests of the employee. They must wait until they've completely healed and can handle their work responsibilities before they can return to work. Otherwise, there may be a risk of re-injury and failure to recover properly.

Some employers may ask their employees to return to work, convincing them that they do not need to carry out all of their job responsibilities. Others may threaten their workers with the possibility of getting fired if they fail to show up.

Regardless of the situation, it's crucial for the injured workers to recover fully before their doctors sign their release papers. Forcing the medical provider for a release can not only adversely affect the employee's health but also have an impact on their workers' compensation claim.

Those who return to work without reaching full recovery may be unable to carry out their job duties, giving their employer a lawful reason to let the worker go. 

When that happens, the employee may be unable to receive temporary total disability benefits, and they may not be in the right condition to seek employment elsewhere.

It's essential for the injured worker to reach maximum medical improvement before accepting a medical release from their doctor. This can ensure that they continue receiving workers' compensation benefits. Pestering the doctor to sign the release forms when the affected party is still recovering could be detrimental to their case.

An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help assess the worker's case and determine whether returning to work can have an impact on their claim.

Should the Injured Worker Return to Work after the Medical Release?

Some work accident victims may like to relax a couple of days more after their medical release so that they can return to employment with a fresh mind. However, that could affect their ability to recover workers' compensation benefits.

When a doctor signs the medical release papers, the injured worker should immediately return to work. Those who are not sure what to do should contact a skilled workers compensation lawyer to discuss their case and determine the next step.

How Does Returning to Work Without Healing Completely from a Work Injury Affect a Workers' Compensation Claim?

When an injured worker seeks compensation for their work-related injury by filing a workers' compensation claim, they might still be undergoing medical treatment. In such situations, going back to work might affect the benefits they may be eligible for.

The workers' compensation insurance company might assume that the injured victim has recovered and may argue that they do not need additional compensation. This can make it difficult for them to obtain a fair settlement.

Does Resuming Employment with Restrictions after Work-related Injury Affect One's Workers Compensation Benefits?

If a person reaches maximum medical improvement and still suffers from partial disability, their doctor may sign the release papers, allowing the individual to go back to work. 

However, the medical professional might place some restrictions or provide a list of job duties that the worker should avoid. They may only allow light paperwork.

When a person returns to work with restrictions, they may still be eligible for workers' compensation benefits since they have a release paper signed by a qualified doctor. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help with other questions like Is Light Duty considered lost time?

In some cases, the employer may reduce the employee's pay since they won't be carrying out all of their job duties. Although that may be fair for the company, it can affect the worker's financial situation. An experienced personal injury attorney can help pursue reduced earnings benefits through a workers' compensation claim.

Examples of Work Restrictions after Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

The following are a couple of examples of work restrictions that doctors might place after the injured workers attain MMI:

No Heavy Lifting

Injured workers may have to avoid lifting heavy objects, files, and equipment, among other things. Some employees may find it exerting to lift 50 pounds, while others may get tired moving around 10 pounds. The total lifting effort and maximum weight capacity may vary from one person to another.

Avoid Kneeling or Squatting

Injured workers who have suffered knee or back injuries may have to avoid kneeling or squatting when returning to work. It could cause a strain on the recovering ligaments or muscles, which could adversely affect the worker's recovery.

No More Walking on Uneven Surfaces

Foot, leg, or back injuries can make it dangerous for injured workers to walk on uneven surfaces. The doctor may fear that the employee might injure themselves if they return to work, which is why they may place such restrictions.

Emotional Restrictions

Although all work may produce a certain level of stress, some employers may place their workers in a position where their job duties could cause irritability, tension, or nervousness. 

A doctor may place emotional restrictions, which means that the employer and employee must work together to create a plan where they could avoid placing the worker in such situations.

How to Avoid Being Re-injured after Returning to Work: Creating an Integrated Plan with the Employer

Creating a plan with the employer can show that the injured worker is interested in taking on their job duties and also allows them to reintegrate back into the workplace on an effective timeline.

The following are some of the elements injured workers should include in their return to work plan:

It Should Include All of the Stakeholders

A good plan should include not only the employee or employer but also everyone who should be aware that the worker is returning with some restrictions. 

These stakeholders may include the supervisor, worker's compensation representative, and the company's HR department, among others.

It Should Include Acknowledgement

A good plan should include an acknowledgment from the employer, stating that they understand the restrictions and are willing to ensure a work routine and environment that is safe for the injured worker.

It Should Include the Employer's Plan of Action

If the employer wishes to make the employee's transition back to work smooth, they may offer some accommodations in the form of reduced workload, minimal working hours, or a change in the job title. The employee should include all of the promises made by the company in their return to work plan.

In cases where the employee finds that the employer is violating the return to work plan or discriminating against the worker, it's important to document such instances and report to a skilled workers' compensation lawyer.

What to Do If a Worker Re-injures Themselves at the Workplace

If the doctor places certain restrictions, the injured employee must notify their employer. This shows that the worker informed their company, allowing them to take legal action if their workplace fails to accommodate the medical provider's request.

The following are the steps that the injured workers should take if they suffer another workplace injury after being forced to do something prohibited by the work restrictions:

  • Seek medical help immediately;

  • Notify the employer of the injury; and

  • Reach out to an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

If the worker returns to work due to the doctor's medical release but still cannot carry out their job duties, they need to seek legal help. 

A skilled workers' compensation attorney can have the medical provider changed, or they may arrange for an independent medical evaluation, which could prove the worker's injuries and inability to resume employment. They can also help with questions such as how long does workmans comp last?

Can Reasonable Accommodations Affect a Workers' Compensation Claim?

Can Reasonable Accommodations Affect a Workers' Compensation Claim?

When injured workers want to return to work, employers may approve reasonable accommodations, some of which may include the following.

  • Replacing the door knob with wheelchair accessible handle;

  • Providing screen reading software;

  • Allow for additional preparation time;

  • Investing in ergonomic workstations; and

  • Changing the injured worker's job title by moving them to a different department.

An employer may provide reasonable accommodations but is not liable to restructure the injured worker's essential job functions. If the affected employee cannot carry out their work responsibilities, the company has the right to change their department or terminate them.

Some employees may return to work and accept lower pay for reduced work responsibilities. When that happens, a skilled attorney can negotiate additional benefits in the workers' compensation settlement.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help Challenge Disability Benefits to Ensure Maximum Compensation!

Those who have suffered a work injury in Nashville, Tennessee, may be eligible to receive workers' comp benefits, including disability benefits, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained. Injured victims must call to schedule a free consultation with reputable and skilled Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys.

The legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help assess whether the injured worker can return to work and challenge the disability benefits in the workers' compensation settlement to ensure maximum compensation.

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