Returning to work after an injury

What you need to know about going back to work after being injured on the job

After being injured on the job, many workers want to get back to work as quickly as possible. Missing work can put you in a difficult financial situation, and you may simply miss being productive at your job. However, it's important to take your time and make sure you are adequately recovered before going back to work.

Sometimes, benefits like workers' compensation can alleviate the financial strain of missing work so you can focus on your recovery. But, too often, workers feel pressured to return to work before they are ready, either by their employer or doctor.

Who decides when I go back to work?

Your employer has a financial interest in getting you back to work as soon as possible, so they may try to encourage you to return after a relatively short period of time. However, your employer is not your doctor. If your doctor recommends that you take some more time off, it is important to follow their recommendations. Not only will it protect your health, but following your doctor's orders is always a good idea to protect any legal claim you might have.

Your doctor's authorization is the final word on whether you must return to work.

What if I'm not ready to return to work?

If your doctor and employer agree that you should go back to work, don't just fail to show up. You could lose both your job AND your workers' compensation benefits.

If the doctor selected by your employer wants you to return to work but you don't feel ready, consider seeking a second opinion - ideally from a specialist who knows a lot about your condition. If the second doctor disagrees with the first, consider talking to a lawyer about your options.

Do I have to accept light duty if my employer offers it?

If the work falls within limitations set by your doctor, you are required to accept a light-duty position or risk losing your job and benefits. As always, speak with an attorney if you have any concerns about a workers' compensation claim. 

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