What Do I Do If I’ve Gone Back to Work but I’m Still Hurt?
When you’re injured on the job, the days immediately following are often filled with reports, calls and appointments. In that whirlwind of activity, it’s easy to start thinking of just heading back to work. Your initial physician’s assessment might recommend you go back on a modified schedule, something that can feel difficult to disagree with even if you’re still in pain. Employers will sometimes ramp up the pressure, offering light duty assignments to accommodate your recovery—so long as you’re back on the clock before seven days have passed.
But when you head back to work before the seven-day marker that begins eligibility for worker’s comp coverage, you potentially forfeit your future claim to medical expenses or lost wages. After that point, it will take an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer to help guide you through the process of reclaiming your rights.
What should I do after an injury?
Worker’s compensation claims come with plenty of pitfalls, so it’s best to start with professional help even if everything seems clear, you trust your employer and you respect your doctor’s opinion. If you follow the right steps from the start—reporting your injury, seeing a recommended doctor and understanding your new physical limitations—it’s easier to make a claim if you need to and, ultimately, have it accepted.
What if light duty just isn’t working for me?
If you do head back before you’re ready, however, you’ll likely have a harder road. If you returned before seven days but found that light duty was still challenging or your injuries were more complicated than expected, you’ll need to speak to a worker’s compensation lawyer to help get you back on track.
It’s possible that your initial physician from the posted panel of physicians didn’t properly assess the extent of your injuries. You can make a one-time switch if you’re unhappy with your treatment. Additionally, if you headed back to work after seven days and began receiving weekly benefit checks, but then realized after returning to work that you were not fully recovered, you have the right to a second opinion.
A worker’s comp lawyer will also be able to help determine whether your employer is complying with the physician’s restrictions. It’s possible that your light duty assignment is simply not within your current physical abilities.
A worker’s compensation attorney can also make sure your compensation for light duty is appropriate. If you need to work a lower-paying modified duty assignment for two months while you recover, your employer is supposed to pay two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages.
Why you need someone in your corner
After a workplace injury, many employees make their first mistake by trying to “do the right thing” and hurry back to work. But during a complex time where there’s so much at stake—both for your health and future earning potential—it’s smarter to take a step back, take your time and make sure you get the medical care and legal advice you need.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you need a worker’s comp attorney. The Macon worker’s compensation lawyers at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill understand the complexities of these cases. Contact us for a free consultation today.