There’s a lot of information out there about workers’ compensation, but there isn’t a lot about your rights when you’re returning to work after an on-the-job injury. It can often be overwhelming going back to work after an accident, especially if you’ve been gone for a while. You’ll probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Speaking directly with a workers’ comp attorney about your specific case can help answer those questions and ease your mind. For now, here are some commonly asked questions regarding returning to work after a workplace injury.
1. How is my ability to return to work determined?
There are a number of factors used to determine if you’re healthy enough to return to work. People including your doctor, your employer, and your employer’s claim administrator will be involved in the final decision. A workers’ comp lawyer can help keep the lines of communication open between all the parties involved. Things that will be taken into consideration include:
- The work you did prior to your injury
- Your current medical condition
- What you’re physically able to do now
- The kinds of work your employer could offer you
2. Can I return to work while I am recovering?
Simply put, yes, you can return to work while you’re on the mend. Your treating doctor must send a report to your employer’s claims administrator about your medical condition, stating if you can return to work or not. Your doctor will include details about:
- Any limits, or work restrictions, that will be placed on you while you’re recovering
- Changes that are needed in your schedule, equipment you may need, etc.
If your doctor says that you can’t return to work, then you will not be required to work.
3. When I return to work, does my employer have to pay for the time I have to take off to receive ongoing medical treatment?
Sometimes, workers who return to work are still undergoing medical treatment. It’s important to know that your employer is NOT responsible for paying you to take time off to go for medical appointments. If it’s impossible to schedule these medical visits outside of work hours and the insurer has requested that you go to the appointment, then your employer, or insurer, may have to compensate you for lost work time and travel expenses.
4. What are my rights upon returning to work after an injury?
When you return to work, you will be given a 28-day trial work period. This is set up to see how you’re doing and if you can, indeed, perform your job duties. If you find that you can’t continue to work, your insurer will resume your workers’ compensation if you leave within the 28-day period. To resume your benefits, you must inform your employer and the insurer in writing by certified mail that you are incapable of performing work duties. You do NOT need a doctor’s report to support your statements (although you will need this later down the line.)
Additionally, Massachusetts’s workers’ compensation law says that your employer must give you a preference for re-hiring for any job vacancies. Your employer does not have to let go of any current employees for your benefit, but you will get preference for re-hiring.
5. How does all of this affect my workers’ comp benefits?
If your benefits are equal to, or higher than, the wages you start receiving upon your return to work, then it is likely your benefits will stop. However, if you still have a wage loss upon returning to work, you may still receive compensation but at a lower rate. There are always exceptions, so it’s best to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney to see how going back to work will affect your benefits.
Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Comp Attorney
Returning to work after an accident can be overwhelming. If you’re feeling uneasy about going back to work and need more questions answered about your specific case, speaking with one of our trusted lawyers at Powers & Caccavale can help ease your mind. To find out more about your rights, fill out our free case evaluation or call (617) 379-0016.