Can My Boss Force Me Back to Work Too Soon After an Injury?

Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Feb 16, 2022 in Workers' Compensation

example of a workers' comp claim formWork injuries place employees under a lot of unexpected pressure. In addition to doctor’s appointments and reduced wages, an employer may be pushing them to return to work. Many employees may comply, thinking they could be fired or that their boss has the right to badger them. However, no employer has the right to force injured employees back to work too soon.

Goldberg Finnegan explains your workers’ comp rights in this situation, including what your employer may or may not have the right to do. Learn about your responsibilities, how the law protects you and what to expect about your current job.

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Your Responsibilities in a Workers’ Comp Claim

Even if you have filed your claim and are now receiving benefits, you have some responsibilities. There are steps you can take to help to ensure your benefits continue while you are recovering, which can help make for an easier return to work:

  • Notify your employer within 10 days of being injured: Failure to do so could bar you from getting benefits.
  • File your workers’ comp claim within 60 days of the accident: Neglecting this step could also result in a denied claim.
  • Touch base with your boss throughout your recovery: It is important for your boss to be informed about your off-work status. Simply informing him or her that your doctor is keeping you out of work is always a good idea. A lack of communication could cause your employer to conclude that you have abandoned your job.
  • Follow your doctor’s plan of care and treatment plan: Missing appointments or not following your doctor’s care plan, such as getting physical therapy, can badly harm your claim. First, it could slow your recovery significantly. Second, both your employer and insurance carrier may think you are exaggerating or faking your injuries to slow your return to work.
  • Follow your company’s protocol for returning to work: Learn what documents and steps, if any, you need to complete and take care of before returning. This is especially true if you have been out for more than a few weeks.

Statute of Limitations Apply

There are also deadlines for filing your workers’ comp claim, so you do not wait too long to contact an attorney. Depending on what state you are filing in, these deadlines may vary.

For instance:

  • Maryland: Injured workers must file a claim with the Commission within two (2) years of the date of injury.
  • District of Columbia: you must file your claim with the Office of Workers’ Compensation within one (1) year of the date of your injury.
  • Virginia: Injured workers must file their claim within two (2) years of the date of injury.

Does Your Boss Have to Keep Your Job Open While You Recover?

Your boss does not have a legal duty to keep your job open while you recover from your work-related injury. There are certain positions that, if not filled immediately, could create a hardship to the company. For instance, say your position is essential to the company. In that situation, your boss is well within his or her legal right to fill your role as quickly as possible.

This reality may make many workers nervous about whether they could lose their job during a workers’ comp claim. Even though your boss does not have to hold your job for you, Maryland workers’ comp laws protect you from retaliatory discharge. This means that your employer cannot fire you just because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.

If you are terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may be eligible for additional damages. These damages would be over and above the workers’ compensation benefits you are already eligible to receive. 

Additionally, if you do lose your job while receiving workers’ comp, your benefits should still continue.

Can an Employer Demand You Return to Work Too Soon?

No, your employer cannot demand you return to work. You do not need to return to your job until your doctor has cleared you and you have sufficiently recovered from your injuries. 

If your employer continues to pressure you or demand your return to work, you should seek legal help immediately. At Goldberg Finnegan, our qualified workers comp attorneys in Silver Spring have extensive knowledge of the laws. We are prepared to protect your rights for the duration of your workers’ comp claim.

Who Decides When You Are Ready to Go Back to Work?

Only your treating physician can determine if you are cleared to return to work. If your employer or you think you may be ready to return earlier, there are other options to consider. For instance, your doctor could clear you to work with certain restrictions. While you may be unable to stand for long periods on your feet, you could be cleared to do clerical work. Sometimes, you may be able to do your job, but for fewer hours than before while you recover.

What Are the Risks if You Go Back to Work Too Soon?

The biggest risk if you return to work too soon is that you could make your injuries worse. You also risk reinjury or preventing yourself from being able to make a full recovery.

Preparing to Return to Work After a Job-Related Injury

Although your doctor must clear you to return to work, there is some preparation you can do before that time. When discussing the possibility of going back, be sure to:

  • Discuss your specific job duties with the doctor, so he or she can determine your ability to do those tasks.
  • If there are restrictions, make sure your doctor details what they are in a note to your employer.
  • Check with your employer about - and follow - his or her return-to-work policy.

Once you return to work, it is important to continue to follow-up with your doctor until he or she releases you. If your doctor allows you back to work on light duty or with restrictions, be sure to follow them. Be sure that you hold your employer to these restrictions as well. If you suffer a reinjury, it could cause you more serious harm or prevent you from making a full recovery.

Need Help After a Job-Related Injury? Call Our Law Firm for Legal Help Today

Dealing with a workers’ comp claim while recovering from your injuries can be tricky. Sometimes employers may pressure their employees to get back to work sooner and before they are ready. Having an experienced lawyer fully handle your claim may greatly benefit you.

Call our firm today if you need legal help while seeking or continuing your workers’ comp benefits. At Goldberg Finnegan, we have been helping injured victims, including those injured on the job, for decades. We have a proven history, recovering millions for our clients, and we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Take advantage of the free legal consultation we offer to get answers to your questions. There is no obligation after this meeting, so there is no risk to you. We can take your call 24/7.

Experienced Lawyers. No Upfront Costs. (888) 213-8140

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