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Brent Adams & Associates

An Injured Worker Forced to Return to Work?

An employee demanding an injured worker returns to work presents a very dangerous dilemma for the injured employee. The point at which you are required to return to work is a very crucial stage in the progress of your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim. You should not attempt to deal with this matter without the assistance of a workers’ compensation lawyer.

Before exploring this dilemma, understand it is beneficial for the employee to return to work. The injured claimant earns more money at work than if he or she stayed at home and collected North Carolina workers' compensation payments. Returning to work also boosts self-esteem.

On the other hand, if the worker returns to work before becoming physically and mentally able to engage in suitable employment, serious damage could be done to the worker compensation claim.

If the workers' comp claimant needs to leave work again as a result of their injury, if they do so after trying to do their job duties, the employer may try to terminate workers' compensation benefits and may fire the employee.

The important thing that the worker should always do is show up for work. This is true even if the worker suspects the employer may try to coerce the injured worker into working outside physician prescribed work restrictions. It is better to show up at the job site, clock in and do nothing than to fail to show up for work. You should make it clear to your employer that you are willing to do any kind of work so long as such work is not outside of the work restrictions that your doctor placed upon you. Once your benefits are suspended or terminated, it is usually very difficult to have these benefits restored.

If you are attempting to return to work with various work restrictions, (such as a 10-pound weight restriction with no bending, lifting, or stooping) you should be sure that your employer intends to comply with those limitations. While you should report to work as instructed, under no circumstances should you do work which is outside of the limitations established by your treating doctor.

You should keep a photocopy of your doctor’s return to work restrictions so that you can show them to any supervisor or boss in the event that they ask you to do work outside those restrictions. If your employer insists that you do work outside your restrictions, tell your employer politely that you would like to do the work however,  your doctor will not allow you to do the work which is outside your restrictions. You should then call your lawyer at the first opportunity.