Stephen Hasner | Workplace Accidents | November 10, 2022
Are you being forced to return to your job after a work injury? Unfortunately, many employees feel pressured to return to work before they have recovered fully from their workplace accident. The pressure might come from their employer or the workers’ compensation doctor.
The first thing to do is to make sure you know your legal rights to refuse to return to work after a work injury. The best way to learn about your rights is to discuss your concerns with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Is a Work Status Report for a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Employers who comply with the rules of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation can designate and post a panel of physicians that injured employees must choose from to receive treatment. The panel must have at least six doctors.
After examining the employee, the doctor prepares a work status report. The report details any work restrictions based on the employee’s injuries and condition. For example, restrictions might include limitations on the following:
- Overhead work
The restrictions might state that an employee cannot perform the activity at all, or the doctor could limit the activity to a specific period each day or within a specific time range. For example, the physician might limit pushing, pulling, and lifting to a specific weight. Also, the doctor might restrict the use of a specific limb or body part.
The work status report might also contain a list of tasks the employee can perform. The tasks might be considered light duty. For example, a line worker might not be able to stand to work on the assembly line, but they might be able to sit and sort items or inspect items.
Your employer should receive a copy of the work status report. You should request a copy of the report to keep for your records. Verify that your employer received a copy of the report and make a note of the date and time of the conversation and who verified they had the report.
Do not assume that you do not have to work if the doctor restricts your activities. Confirm with your employer whether you can be placed on light duty within the restrictions from your doctor or if your employer does not have anything you can do given the limitations.
Some employees sustain severe injuries that prevent them from performing any type of work. The work status report should note if the doctor is placing you on temporary total disability because of the work injury.
What Happens Next?
Your employer reviews the work status report. If the doctor says you can work with restrictions, your employer must determine if:
- There is work you can do within the restrictions from your doctor;
- The number of hours and the pay for light duty; or,
- There is no work you can do within the restriction from your doctor.
If your employer does not have any work that fits the restrictions, you should be entitled to temporary total disability payments. If you can work light duty, you can receive temporary partial disability payments if you do not earn the same pay as before the accident.
What if Your Employer Tries To Force You To Return to Full Duty While You Have Medical Restrictions?
Do not quit your job. Instead, inform your supervisor and employer that the work they are giving you is outside of the work restrictions from your doctor. Then, contact your physician to schedule an appointment to discuss the situation and report how the work is causing pain and other symptoms.
Then, contact an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney if you do not have a lawyer yet. A lawyer can help you file the appropriate claims to hold your employer and/or its insurance company responsible for trying to force you to return to work before your doctor releases you to perform your job duties.
You may have to try to work for at least one day before refusing work. If possible, contact an attorney before refusing to work. Because a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated, it can be better to have legal representation as soon as possible after a work-related accident or injury.
Your physician should be able to guide you on whether attempting to work could cause further injury or place your life in danger. If that is the case, ask the doctor to write a statement and give it to you before you leave the office. Then, take that statement to your lawyer immediately.
Contact the Atlanta Workplace Accident Lawyers at Hasner Law, P.C. For Help
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