Coming Back to Work After Your On-the-Job Injury: When You and Your Treating Physician Disagree

In a perfect world, you would not have suffered a workplace injury. Our world is far from perfect, however, and accidents do happen. When we discuss the typical timeline for a workers’ compensation case, it usually sounds fairly mundane: a worker is hurt, seeks medical treatment for his or her injuries, and returns to work when they are medically cleared to do so. Simple, right?

In the real world, however, things rarely follow the textbook examples so perfectly. You may have to go to the doctor before you report your injury, or you may encounter some resistance from your employer over your injury being a result of performing your job duties. One common disagreement that arises in workers’ compensation cases is over when the injured worker must return to work.

Say your doctor has cleared you to return to work on light duty, but you do not feel as though you are ready to return. What do you do? Your employer is going to take the word of your treating physician, so will you be forced to return before you feel physically capable?

Options for Extending Medical Leave

Fortunately, there are a few options you can explore in this situation.

The simplest option would be to cash in on some of your accrued sick or vacation days if you only need a short amount of time beyond the date you’ve been given. Just because you’ve been out for an injury does not preclude you from using days off that you have earned.

If you feel as though you need a longer period of time before returning to work, you will likely be required to jump through a few more hoops. Your employer will probably require you to present documentation that backs up your claims and may ask that you undergo additional exams. Using this new information, your employer will make the call to extend your time off or require you to return.

Unfortunately, if these additional exams show that you are physically capable of returning to work, you will not have much recourse. You may be able to renegotiate terms of your light-duty requirements, but if you are physically capable of performing the duties required of your position, your employer can demand your return.

Are you currently facing a dispute over your return to work and are confused over your options? Speak to Augusta workers’ compensation attorney Chris Hudson today to learn more about your rights as an injured worker now!

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