Workers’ Compensation & the Dangers of Returning to Work Early
A serious job-related injury can keep an employee out of work for weeks
or months. Unfortunately, employers aren’t above disputing workers’
compensation claims just to safeguard their insurance premiums. Some employers
will even manipulate or intimidate their workers just to get them back
in the office sooner.
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, it’s critical
that you follow through with your workers’ compensation claim and
complete your prescribed treatment program. Returning to work early can
exacerbate your existing injuries and cause you to suffer additional –
and costly – medical complications in the future.
Am I Ready to Return to Work?
Many workers’ compensation recipients start to get a little stir-crazy
when they’re injured and stuck at home. After all, there is only
so much daytime TV a sane person can handle. Even so, you don’t
want to return to work without your doctor’s permission. If you
ignore your physician’s orders, you may aggravate your injury and
potentially jeopardize your career. While there are many personal, professional,
and social benefits to returning to work, no job is worth compromising
your health and well-being.
Can I Be Fired for Not Returning to Work?
Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance program that
helps cover an employee’s lost wages and medical bills. It cannot,
however, protect an employee’s job. Texas is an employment-at-will
state, which means that any worker can be laid off so long as their claim
isn’t the source of the termination.
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your job. For instance, you
can remain in contact with your employer, send them updates about your
condition, and even plan ahead for your return date. You can also benefit
from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which protects your job
for 12 weeks if an injury or illness prevents you from working. In fact,
you’ll have grounds to file a complaint with the Department of Labor
if you’re terminated while on FMLA leave.
What If I’m Not Ready to Go Back to Work?
Sometimes an injured employee needs (or wants) a little more TLC before
clocking back into work. It’s important to note that you can’t
receive workers’ compensation benefits or protect your job by ignoring
the doctor’s order.
Of course, if you’ve sustained a permanent condition or disability,
you may need to discuss reasonable accommodations with your company’s
HR department. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to take on
a different professional role or accept a pay cut to stay with the company.
If this occurs, you may be eligible to receive reduced-earning benefits
through the Texas workers’ compensation program.
The Importance of Retaining Experienced Legal Representation
Austin work injury attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, P.A. have a comprehensive understanding of OSHA
regulations and the personal injury field. Our trial-tested legal team
has successfully represented thousands of personal injury cases, including
those that involve workplace injuries, and can guide you through each
step of this challenging legal process. During your appointment, we can
listen to your story, discuss your legal options, and determine if you
have grounds to file a claim against your employer or a third-party. A
successful lawsuit can yield damages that provide for your ongoing medical
Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC
at (512) 271-5112 to discuss your case with a qualified legal professional.