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I got hurt bad on the job. The doctor says I can go back with restrictions. Do I have to go back to work if I’m worried I can’t do my job?

Yes, you must go back if your employer has work you can do within your restrictions. If you refuse to return to work at a job the doctor indicates you’re able to perform, you can be denied workers’ compensation benefits.

Few things inspire more anxiety for hurt workers than returning to work. Many are so anxious to get back to work it drives them crazy when the doctor won’t let them, or gives them restrictions their job can’t accommodate. And other folks worry they’re being released too early, that the work could worsen their condition, or that they just can’t do the job anymore. And returning to work after an injury can be a little awkward and even intimidating, even if it’s not your fault and you’re doing all you can to get back.

We’ve found information eases fears, so here’s some basics on how getting back to work goes.

The Doctor’s Work Restrictions Protect You

Here’s some important terms you might encounter:

Light duty

Your doctor may allow you to do this type work while he’s still treating you. It means you’ve got restrictions keeping you from doing your normal work. So if you work in a warehouse but can’t lift due to a shoulder injury, light duty might mean you answer phones or sweep the floors. Hopefully, you’ll return to your prior job once you reach maximum medical improvement.  If your employer has no light duty, you remain on temporary total disability, getting a weekly check.

Permanent restrictions

When the doctor releases you, he gives these as your lifelong limitations from the injury. Once you have them, you should report to work to see if your employer has a job that can accommodate them. If so, congrats! You dodged a bullet by not having to look for a new job.

Some people aren’t so lucky. You may have a grave, complicated injury with lifelong consequences. You may count as totally disabled under workers’ compensation law, a term that doesn’t mean what you may think. If you don’t already have one, you need an experienced lawyer to get you the most permanent disability benefits possible to help protect your financial security.

What If I Try to Work But Just Can’t Do It?

If you give work an honest try, but can’t do it, be honest about it. Report it to your supervisor. You may need more treatment, and you should ask to go back to the doctor for a reevaluation. For income, hurt employees who try working but can’t make it 15 days ordinarily qualify automatically for temporary total disability benefits.

The Cure for Legal Worries Is Professional Help

If you’re worried about going back to work or anything else related to your workers’ comp case, stop and take action. Email us your questions so we can answer them and start giving you guidance. Let us help give you peace of mind and get you the maximum available benefits you can obtain in your one-time chance to do right by yourself after a work injury.

 

Rob Usry
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Rob is a South Carolina personal injury and criminal defense lawyer.

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