Injured workers who have a workers’ comp case are in a difficult predicament; they are expected to look for new work within their doctor’s restrictions, but they can be penalized if they return to work too soon.
There are numerous factors to consider, and the choice that you make can affect your financial future. The Bloomsburg workers’ compensation lawyers at Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane can advise you about the decision that works best for you.
You Have to Go Back to Work When You Are Able
The dilemma at stake is that if you return to work in some form, it may show that you are really not disabled to the point where you should receive a workers’ compensation settlement.
The consideration is whether you have suffered a work-related injury, and the ability to do work may counsel against a conclusion that you are really injured.
Even if you have a legal obligation to return to work when you are able, you should never do so without agreement from your doctor. You can do damage to your health and hurt your ability to go back to work for the long term if you try to return to your job too soon. Your doctor should only clear you to return to work based on their professional medical opinion and nothing else.
Do not feel pressure to go back to your job before you are physically ready. Your physician is the one who knows your health the best. If you are challenged by the insurance company, your doctor’s opinion should be enough to show that you are not yet fully ready to work.
You Can Still Get a Settlement If You Go Back to Work
Returning to work is not necessarily the end of your chances for a workers’ compensation settlement. There may still be valid reasons why you should still get paid.
Even if you are not receiving total disability benefits, there may still be outstanding issues that need to be addressed, including:
- Outstanding medical bills
- Future medical bills that will need to be paid
- Attorney fees
- Future disability payments
- Past work that you missed because of your injury
In addition, your employer has a legal obligation to accommodate you in the workplace. If you are still injured in some form, your employer may be unable to appropriately accommodate you to allow you to return to work fully.
Thus, even if you have tried to return to work, it does not actually mean that you have come back to your job. Your employer may let you go if they see that you can no longer do your job because of your physical injuries.
Different Types of Disability Payments Under Workers’ Compensation
It is important to remember that workers’ compensation pays two different types of disability for lost wages:
- Total disability benefits when you are unable to work at all
- Partial disability benefits when your ability to work is affected in some way
Know that returning to work will affect your ability to receive a settlement that involves total disability benefits. These benefits are reserved for people who cannot work in any capacity. If you go back to work too early, you may be unable to show that you are unable to work. Then, you may still learn later on that you cannot do any sort of work after you have lost the ability to settle your claim.
In many ways, you have not fully returned to work unless you can do what you did before the injury without any restrictions. Work with restrictions means that you still have a lingering injury that will entitle you to workers’ compensation benefits in some fashion. Lighter work duty is still costing you money in most cases. Work with restrictions still means that your earnings capacity is not the same as it was before your work-related injury.
You Can Still Get Money If You Go Back to Work
Just because you have returned to work in some capacity does not mean that you may not be entitled to some type of payment for your wages. You may be unable to do the type of work that you did before your injury. You may have only been cleared for light duty, which pays less than you earned before. You will still be entitled to some payments to reflect the difference in what you are earning.
The good news is that many workers’ compensation cases will settle before you have reached the point where you have returned to work. You should not let the fact that you are trying to follow your own legal obligations keep you from pursuing the benefits to which you are entitled. If you have already settled your case, there is nothing to stop you from returning to work.
Contact a Bloomsburg Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you are concerned about your workers’ comp settlement after returning to work, you should consult with an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Luschas, Naparsteck & Crane can help you with difficult issues that affect your workers’ compensation claim, giving you timely and commonsense legal advice.
Your first step is to contact us for a free initial consultation. You can reach out to us online or call us at (570) 602-8961.
Workers’ Compensation Case FAQ
What happens if the insurance company will not reach a settlement?
You have administrative options to appeal if your claim is denied or if the insurance company refuses to settle your case. An administrative law judge can hear your case.
How can I afford a lawyer if I am not working?
A workers’ compensation lawyer will handle your case on a contingency basis, and you will not need to pay them out of your pocket.
How much can I get in benefits for lost wages?
You are paid a percentage of your lost wages up to the amount of a statutory cap. In 2022, the most you can be paid in a week is $1205.