A: The work environment can be a little uncomfortable after a work injury. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that having an injury at work and then having a subsequent workers’ compensation claim does not protect your job. You need to communicate your work restrictions to your employer by supplying the employer with a copy of your doctor’s note after every appointment.
If your employer terminates you while the doctor has you out of work, workers’ compensation insurance can still pay your lost wages for the period that your doctor has you on a no work status.
If you are working under restrictions from the doctor, it is your responsibility to make sure you follow those restrictions at all times while also following the policies and work rules laid out by your employer. If the employer is asking you to do things outside of the restrictions your doctor has given you or is asking you to complete tasks that you are not sure if you should do, you need to notify your doctor immediately and get clarification from him or her as to what you should be doing. Remember, your doctor is the only one who can determine your work status and physical abilities and you need to always follow them whether at work or at home.
If you are terminated from your employer while you are under light duty restrictions, the circumstances of your termination can play a large factor as to whether or not you can still receive workers’ compensation lost wage benefits. If your employer terminates you from employment for things unrelated to your limited work abilities (like excessive tardiness, bad behavior, or noncompliance of work place policies) you will likely not be able to collect workers’ compensation lost wages. If the employer terminates your employment because you are unable to do your full work load due to the work restrictions or because they do not offer light duty work, you may still be eligible for lost wage benefits through workers’ compensation insurance. Each person has a “different but similar” situation and you need to talk to us to make sure you are taking the proper steps for your particular set of circumstances.