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When should you return to work after a job injury?

Suffering an injury at work can affect everything from your budget to your mental health. Needing to stay home while you recover can be very difficult, especially if the temporary disability benefits you receive through workers’ compensation aren’t enough for you to cover all of your bills.

Many workers are eager to get back on the job as soon as possible after an injury at work because it’s hard to live on just 70% of their average weekly wage. Depending on the kind of work you do and how severe your injury is, there may be multiple different points in your recovery when it is possible for you to go back to work.

Your doctor may approve you for light-duty work

The more physically demanding your job is, the more careful your physician will likely be when giving the authorization for you to return to work. If you work in an office, you will likely be able to go back with minimal accommodations much more quickly than if you work in a factory.

When the doctor believes that you can perform some work but not all the duties of your position, they may write a note authorizing you for certain job functions. If your employer can accommodate those restrictions, you can potentially return to work right away. If they cannot, you will likely need to keep receiving workers’ compensation until your recovery is complete.

You may have to wait for a total recovery

If you have a physically demanding job, going back before you heal completely might make your recovery slower or worsen your injury. You may need to wait until the physician overseeing your care approves you for all work functions to return to your job.

You may have to move in to a less demanding career

If your injuries are severe or if a total recovery isn’t possible, you may have to move into a new field. You may be able to request long-term benefits from workers’ compensation to make up for your diminished earning potential in that scenario.

Knowing your limits during recovery can be as important as understanding how to navigate the workers’ compensation system. An experienced attorney can help you navigate this process and complete your return to work.