Returning To Work After Workers Comp: When Is It Too Soon?
If you or somebody you care about has been injured at work, you should be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in California. These benefits are designed to cover an injured worker’s medical bills, a significant portion of any lost wages, and even provide temporary or permanent disability benefits depending on the severity of the injury.
However, we know that many employees are just focused on getting back to work as soon as possible. That is understandable, but we do want to caution that there is such a thing as going back to work too soon. In fact, going back too soon could seriously jeopardize your own well-being as well as your ability to recover additional benefits if you aggravate your injury.
Work injuries happen, but you need to take care of yourself
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know that there were around 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries or illnesses reported during the latest year of data nationwide. The vast majority of workplace injuries or illnesses are relatively minor, and employees are eager to get back to their daily schedule. However, returning to work too soon after an injury is never a good idea.
We know that the pressure to go back to work can be immense, and it can come from every direction. This can include the work injury victim’s own family as well as the employer. First, it is important for every injured worker to understand their rights. Anytime a person has successfully filed a workers’ compensation claim, they have rights dictated by the law in California. An employer cannot simply dictate your recovery timeline.
Further, you need to know that it is illegal for an employer to deliver any kind of threat about losing your job or facing disciplinary action for failing to report to work after a workers’ compensation claim has been filed if you have not been medically cleared to do so. The law is on your side with these situations and having a workers’ comp lawyer in Riverside and makes sure you are treated fairly.
Listen to your doctor
The single most important factor to consider in these situations is the current state of your health. Determining when you are physically healthy enough to return to work should be the sole job of your authorized treating physician. Until a doctor determines that you will not risk further harm to yourself, you do not need to go to work. Even if you feel fine like you could do your job in the same way you could before your injury, please understand that your doctor knows more than you do about the unseen workings of your body. All too often, work injury victims feel fine, return to work too early, and proceed to aggravate their injuries all over again.
Because you will need to rely on a doctor’s care after sustaining a workplace injury or illness, you will also be able to use what they say as a valid reason for not being able to return to work. When you have the proper documentation from a doctor that you can show to your employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier, there is very little that they can do to force you to return to work.
Come to terms with your limitations
Being able to work and earn a living is a source of pride for most people. We often hear people say that they feel weak when they are not able to provide for themselves and their family. We completely understand this sentiment. However, we also know that if you go to work and push your limitations beyond what your body is capable of doing, there is a good chance that you will cause another injury or illness to occur that could lead to further setbacks.