Health Care

If my Doctor releases me to return to work, do I have to return to work for my employer?

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If my Doctor releases me to return to work, do I have to return to work for my employer?

I often get calls from injured workers when the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier has accepted liability for the injured workers’ injury and the injured worker is receiving medical treatment and disability checks for the work while the doctor has removed them from all work due to the work injury. However, at a recent appointment the Doctor allows the injured worker to return to work under certain work restrictions and the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier the tells the injured worker that they must return to work for the employer immediately or else the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier will terminate and immediately stop the disability checks being provided to the injured workers due to the work injury.
 
When receiving these calls from injured workers the conversation always starts with the question of whether or not the injured worker feels that they can return to work under the assigned work restrictions or not. If the injured worker does not feel they can return to work under the assigned work restrictions then the first option is discussing a 2nd opinion evaluation in order to have another Doctor address the appropriate work restrictions given the current status of the injured worker’s injury and recovery from the injury in order to make sure if there is going to be a return to work then the appropriate work restrictions are being addressed in order to avoid a risk of re-injury and avoid a situation in which the injured worker in being placed in a position outside of what the injured worker is physically capable of performing.
 
In the alternative, if the injured worker feels that they can return to work for the employer under the assigned work restrictions, then the next questions is if the injured worker has concerns about the position being offered or does not know what position is being offered by the employer. If the injured worker feels they can return to work under the assigned work restrictions at the position being offered by the employer, then it is just a matter of coordinating the trial return to work for the employer.
 
However, if the injured worker has concerns about the position being offered or does not know what position is being offered by the employer, then the next step is requesting a copy of a formal job description of the position being offered by the employer. Once this is received then the injured worker is asked to offer any comments about the job description for the position being offered by the employer in order to comment about portions of the job description the injured worker disagrees with in terms of the activities being require of the position or any activities of the position which are not listed on the job description which the injured worker knows they will be required to perform as part of the offered position. These comments from the injured worker and the job description are then provided to the Doctor so that the Doctor can then either approval or disapproval the position as being safe and appropriate for the injured worker’s return to work for the employer. Only if the Doctor approves the job description for the offered position is the injured worker attempting a trial return work for the employer.
 
All of these efforts are being engaged in order to confirm the assigned work restrictions are appropriate given the current status of recovery from the work injury and that the job being offered falls within the assigned work restrictions and is safe and appropriate given Doctor’s opinion.
 
Prior to any return to work for the employer, I advise an injured worker to consult with an attorney about their options concerning the return to work vs their entitlement to ongoing disability checks. If there ever any questions about this issue in your workers’ compensation claim please feel free to contact Cardinal Law Partner in order to discuss this issue and your legal options concerning the return to work process for your workers’ compensation claim. Our board certified workers’ compensation attorneys are always willing to discuss these issues with injured workers in order to assure there is only a return to work if it is appropriate given the current medical status and recovery for the injured worker’s injury.
 
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