When you are injured at work and seeking workers’ compensation, sometimes it can feel like a losing battle. There are so many rules and laws that it’s hard to keep them straight. It’s hard enough to deal with the many doctor appointments and the pain of the injury. And, what if your employer wants you back but you’re not ready?
If you’re receiving temporary total disability (TTD) payments, there is an expectation that they are temporary. At some point, the plan is that you will be back to work in some capacity. You can receive TTD benefits indefinitely although the employer and its insurance company may issue an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) to reassess your injury after 104 weeks. They can also request an Independent Medical Examination (IME).
Your Employer Wants You Back
If the IME doctor believes you can go back to work, your employer may offer you a job within the restrictions set forth by that doctor. If your own doctor thinks you should not return to work, you have the right to refuse to go back. Before making this decision you should seek the advice of a certified workers’ compensation lawyer. If you don’t return to work your employer may file a “Petition to Terminate, Modify, or Suspend Benefits.” A judge will need to review the case before this happens. At this point, it’s important to seek legal counsel.
Your Doctor Clears You to Return to Work
Sometimes you don’t feel well enough to return, but all the doctors believe you can work, even if it is at a modified level. You don’t have a lot of options. If you refuse to go back, it’s likely you will lose your workers’ compensation benefits.
Your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier will make every effort to deny your claim or limit your payout for temporary total or permanent partial disability benefits. You’ll likely need effective legal representation to help you get what you deserve. Call us for a free consultation and definitely contact me if an IME is requested or if you have questions about returning to work.
Returning to Work But Still Injured?
If you are returning to work but not full time or not in the same capacity as before the injury, you still have workers’ compensation rights. Here are a few tips to protect your rights to them:
Maintain regular medical treatment.
Even if your doctor has said just come back when you have a problem, you should still go back every six months to have an analysis of your condition. Make sure your doctor can handle workers’ compensation claims because not all doctors can.
Have your doctor reassess your capacity to complete your daily work functions.
Get a disability slip at each visit. This document denotes a specific period of time when a patient is deemed unable to work or at what capacity he or she can work. You don’t want to be surprised about your doctor’s opinion and asking for this slip each time will keep you communicating properly with both your physician and your employer.
Don’t ignore notifications from your insurance company.
Don’t put your head in sand. This is a good time to see an attorney to know how to complete forms accurately so as not to jeopardize your rights. You may think you don’t need to do anything because nothing has changed but failure to complete certain forms can cause a cessation of benefits.
Report any earnings or changes in financial details to your lawyer and/or insurance company.
Part time work, side work, gig work, pension, social security. These are great ways to supplement your income but, because they can affect your entitlement to workers’ compensation consult with an attorney before you enter into these financial situations. Make sure you keep proof of your earnings such as pay stubs, job invoices, expenses, etc.