What if I am Not Ready to Return to my Job after a Work Injury in Pennsylvania?

Accidents and injuries happen. Often, injuries can affect our job, forcing us to take time off, sometimes for extended periods. If you’ve sustained a work injury, Pennsylvania workers’ compensation laws can help you manage the financial burden while taking time off. 

Your goal should be to heal and return to work when you are able. However, employers often attempt to force injured employees back into the workplace before they are fully recovered. 

This likely has you wondering, “What if I am not ready to return to my job after a work injury in Pennsylvania?” Workers’ compensation is extremely complex. But you have options and rights. A consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation/employment lawyer can help you understand the best path forward.

Interests of Workers’ Compensation Insurers and Employers

The primary goal of your insurers and your employer is to get you back to work as soon as possible. While you may have a similar goal, they want you back so they can stop paying out benefits.

Unfortunately, this often results in employers trying to force employees back before they are medically ready. But the keyword here is “medical.” It’s not up to your insurance company or your employer. It’s not up to you. Only a medical professional can clear you to return to work. This may be (and often is) clearance from your workers’ compensation doctor.

Workers’ Compensation Doctors and Independent Medical Examinations

Only a physician can determine whether you have recovered enough to return to work in some capacity. One type of doctor that can make this decision is the workers’ compensation doctor. In Pennsylvania, employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies may require you to undergo independent medical examinations. A doctor may determine you are able to return to work as a result of this examination.

If the workers’ compensation doctor medically clears you for work, you will receive something called a “Notice of Ability to Return to Work.” The workers’ compensation insurance company sends this document as soon as it gets notice from a doctor that you are medically cleared. This can be a scary process, especially if you feel you are unable to return to work. But there are several things to consider here.

Company Doctor

The workers’ compensation doctor is paid by the insurance company. That means there is potential bias there. They are a company doctor, and their interests often do not align with your own. If you have been asked to undergo an independent medical examination and you receive the Notice of Ability to Return to Work, you still have options. You cannot be forced to return to work.

Consult with Your Own Doctor

You have the right to consult with your own doctor. This has many benefits. First and foremost, you can likely place more trust in your own doctor’s choice. Second, you may have a better opportunity to explain your concerns to a truly independent provider. 

When speaking with your own doctor, go into detail about what your job duties require and what you have to do in the workplace. Your doctor may determine that you can return to work but that certain restrictions need to be put in place. You may need to be limited to light-duty or desk duty. Or, your doctor may determine that you are not medically fit to return to the workplace. In this case, you are not required to return to work, even if the company doctor disagrees. 
In many cases, this may be the end of the story, and your employer and workers’ compensation attorney may hold off on pursuing further action. In other cases, they may take certain actions, from ordering additional examinations to filing certain petitions that can impact your rights. Only an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you navigate these legal issues and the constantly evolving case law surrounding workers’ compensation.

If you’ve been injured in Pennsylvania, please contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:

Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 231-1640

York Law Office
2550 Kingston Road, Suite 210A York, PA 17401
(717) 995-8998

Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610
(717) 388-2325

Chambersburg Law Office
79 St. Paul Drive, Suite 1 Chambersburg, PA 17201
(717) 388-2378

Carlisle Law Office
354 Alexander Springs Road Carlisle, PA 17015
(717) 995-8732

Carbondale Law Office
30 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 101 Carbondale, PA 18407
(717) 995-8810

Lancaster Law Office
2173 Embassy Drive, Ste 123, Lancaster Pa 17603
(717) 616-2954

Lebanon Law Office
937 Willow Street, Suite D Lebanon, PA 17042-1140
(717) 995-8963