Sadly, when injured workers go back to work, there could be problems when returning to work. Especially before they are medically ready. They can suffer new injuries or a re-injury that sets their medical progress back. Most of the injured workers I talk to are anxious to return to work after their work accident and injury. Work gives many of us a sense of belonging, purpose, and a way to support our family. It also can be a great distraction from chronic pain. Just be certain that you are not pushing your doctor to release you to return to work too soon. If the doctor has taken you out of work, he or she has a valid medical reason to do so!
The two most common problems with returning to work after an injury from a work accident, that I see for my clients who return to work too soon, can be categorized two ways:
1) Following the doctor’s work restrictions – Sometimes, injured workers believe that if they stick to their work restrictions too stringently, they will be fired so they “bend” them and try to keep their employer happy rather than what the doctor has advised them. While Virginia workers compensation does not protect your employment status or from being fired, if you are terminated while on work restrictions from you doctor, you may still be able to receive a workers compensation lost wage check while you look for a new job (this is complicated and you will need to talk to an attorney about your specific situation). Injured workers MUST follow their doctor’s work restrictions inside and outside of the work place. Failure to do so could result in termination of workers compensation benefits. I understand that no one wants to lose their job but this is EXTREMELY important!
2) Intense pain – I’ve seen injured workers who “suck it up” and just deal with working in intense pain for the sake of keeping their job or keeping their boss happy. If you return to work on a light duty or full duty status and you are suffering from intense pain, you need to contact your workers compensation doctor right away and let the doctor know what is going on. The doctor won’t make assumptions about how you’re doing. If you don’t tell your doctor, how will your doctor know? The doctor is the only person who can make changes or adjustments to your work restrictions and work status.
Every injured worker has a different situation and is dealing with a different set of circumstances. If you have concerns or if you are having issues after you have returned to work following your work injury, you need to talk to an experienced lawyer immediately for guidance.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.