Returning to Work After a Workplace Injury

Workers who sustain on-the-job injuries are usually able to receive full coverage of medical expenses and a portion of any lost income that is incurred as a result of the injury and the recovery process. Workers’ compensation insurance in Washington provides these protections. However, what happens when an employee is ready to head back to the workplace?

Returning to work after an on-the-job injury or illness can be a stressful process, including the decision about when to return to work. Here, we want to discuss the challenges associated with returning to a place of employment.

Assessing Readiness for Work

Evaluate whether you are physically and mentally ready to resume work (and hey, it’s okay if you aren’t). Figuring this out involves consulting with your healthcare provider to ensure you have adequately recovered. Overlooking this step may lead to re-injury or prolonged recovery, which could hurt your ability to recover compensation.

Understanding Modified Duties

Many times, returning to work does not mean resuming your previous responsibilities immediately. Employers often offer modified or light-duty tasks that align with your current capabilities. It’s important to understand and agree upon these modified duties with your employer before returning. Modified duties should last as long as recommended by a medical professional.

Navigating Workplace Accommodations

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you may be entitled to reasonable accommodations to assist with your return to work. This could include specialized equipment, altered work hours, or physical adjustments in the workplace. Engaging in open dialogue with your employer about your needs is key. Employers are not always required to make accommodations, even if an employee does have a qualifying disability. Additionally, short-term injuries typically will not qualify for ADA accommodations.

Dealing with Workplace Dynamics

The social aspect of returning to work can be challenging. Colleagues may not know about your limitations or the nature of your injury. It is important to foster a supportive work environment and, if necessary, seek the support of HR in addressing any workplace concerns.

Knowing Your Rights

Understanding your rights under workers’ compensation laws is essential. This includes knowing how your benefits will be affected upon returning to work and what actions to take if your injury worsens. Consulting with a Seattle injury lawyer can provide clarity and guidance. You should also understand your rights regarding retaliation for sustaining a workplace injury or reporting the workplace injury. Employers are not allowed to retaliate in these circumstances.

The Importance of Clear Communication

Maintain open communication with your healthcare providers, employer, and workers’ compensation insurer. Clear communication ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding your health status and work capabilities.

Monitoring Your Health

Once you return to work, continue to monitor your health and any symptoms related to your injury. If you experience pain or discomfort, it’s important to address it promptly to prevent further complications.

Returning to work after a workplace injury involves careful consideration of your physical health, understanding your rights, and communicating effectively with all parties involved. If you believe you have been treated unfairly after sustaining a workplace injury or not receiving all of your compensation and benefits, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can examine the facts of your case and help you determine the best steps for recovering the compensation you need.