Many work injuries prevent a victim from returning to work right away. A doctor may order that they take some time off in order to completely heal. If you are injured at work and have been unable to go to your job due to your injuries, there are many factors to consider when it comes to returning to work. A serious job-related injury could keep someone from returning to work for weeks or even months.
There are times, however, when an employer will dispute a claim or the treatment a worker is receiving. Employers may even try to intimidate or bully an injured employee into returning to work early. Returning to work too early can be dangerous for the injured employee.
Are you ready to return to work?
Determining whether or not you are ready to return to work depends on many factors. Many injury victims begin to go stir-crazy when they are stuck at home. This can lead to a strong desire to return to work and get back to their normal routine. However, you should never return to work after an injury without approval from your doctor.
In workers’ compensation cases, a doctor determines whether or not someone should receive time off. Workers’ compensation insurance typically covers a work injury victim’s medical bills as well as most of their lost income. Ignoring a doctor’s orders and returning to work could jeopardize your continued workers’ compensation medical benefits. More importantly, returning to work could result in your injury becoming much worse.
Can you be fired for not returning to work?
Workers’ compensation is state-regulated in West Virginia and is meant to protect injured workers by covering medical expenses and lost wages. However, it does not keep an employee from getting fired. Because West Virginia is an at-will employment state, any worker can be laid off as long as the reason for their termination is not their injury claim. Essentially, there would be no easy way to prove that you lost your job due to the injury or for some other reason.
There are ways for injured workers to protect themselves. They could stay in regular contact with their employer and give them regular updates about their condition. Injured workers can also take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that protects their job for 12 weeks for injuries and illnesses that prevent them from working. The FMLA is a federal law, and you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor is you are terminated.
If you are not ready to return to work
If your doctor has cleared you to return to work, but you do not think you are ready, you should know that workers’ compensation insurance will cease to provide lost wages and medical benefits after the doctor clears you for work.
If you think your injuries have led to a temporary or permanent disability, you need to discuss this with your doctor so you can be evaluated by appropriate medical professionals. If the disability was caused by the work injury, you could be entitled to partial reduced-earning benefits through workers’ compensation. You could also consider filing for Social Security Disability Benefits.
If you have questions regarding workplace injuries, you should speak to a Charleston, West Virginia personal attorney as soon as possible.