When you recover from a workplace injury, you may be asked to return to work quickly. In some cases, you may be asked to return before you think you are ready. However, if your doctor says that you have recovered enough to go back to work, you may be denied ongoing benefits if you refuse to return to work. Fayetteville AR Workers’ Compensation lawyer Ken Kieklak explains what you need to know about returning to work after a workers’ comp. claim and when you might need a lawyer.
When Can You Return to Work After Receiving Workers’ Comp.?
You can only continue to receive workers’ comp. benefits in Arkansas as long as you are too injured to work. This means that if you return to work early, you may prove that you can work, and your employer can suspend or terminate benefits. This means that you cannot return to work early and still receive benefits at the same time. Instead, you must wait until your doctor says you have recovered. If your doctor tells your employer that you are better and can return to work early, your employer may cut-off your benefits, and you may be forced to return to work.
If you applied for Workers’ Compensation and began receiving benefits, your benefits may end after a defined period. Many benefits are paid on a defined “schedule,” which lists the number of weeks you receive benefits for particular injuries. After that period is over, you may not be able to claim additional benefits. This may not be enough time to truly recover, but you may be expected to go back to work after that period is over.
If your injury is part of a permanent disability, you may be able to claim ongoing benefits for a much longer period. In this case, you can never return to work, or else you may lose your benefits.
In some cases, permanent injuries do not stop you from taking another job. Modified work tasks may allow you to continue to perform your job with modified physical duties or take a new, less demanding position. In these cases, you may be able to return to work much earlier than anticipated. In some cases, you can continue to receive workers’ comp. benefits for permanent partial disability, which make up some of the difference in lost wages if you had to take a lower-paying job.
What If You’re Not Ready to Return to Work While on Workers’ Comp.?
If your doctor tells you that you are ready to return to work, but you are still too injured, you may be able to appeal the doctor’s opinion. Employers do not like continuing to pay workers’ comp. benefits, and they may look for any excuse they can find to terminate your benefits. If your doctor says that you are able to return to work, your employer may cut-off your ongoing medical benefits and wage-loss benefits. When this happens, your choices may be to return to work and risk making your injury worse or to refuse to go back to work and potentially lose your job.
However, there is a third option. With the help of an experienced Workers’ Compensation denial lawyer, you can fight the doctor’s medical opinion and fight your employer’s benefit suspension or benefit denial. This process allows you to take your case to an administrative law judge or, potentially, to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission and have them overturn the decision. This can restore benefits and allow you to continue on your path to recovery.
Returning to Work After a Workers’ Compensation Settlement
When you receive a lump-sum settlement for your Workers’ Compensation claim, you receive all benefits up-front. When you receive ongoing benefits, you run the risk that your employer may cut-off your benefits if you recover earlier and are able to return to work sooner than expected. With a settlement, you already received the benefits, so your employer cannot cut them off.
When you take a settlement, your employer may overestimate how long it will take you to recover, and they could ultimately pay you too much. Alternatively, you run the risk of limiting yourself to damages that fail to cover surprise medical expenses or worsening conditions. If your settlement money runs out before you can return to work, you may be short on funds. Always discuss a workers’ comp. settlement with an attorney to ensure it is appropriate for your case.
Fayetteville Workman’s Comp. Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you are recovering from a workplace injury, talk to an attorney about receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits. An experienced Huntsville workers’ compensation lawyer can help you decide how to structure a settlement to best cover your needs. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, may be able to take your case and help you fight terminations or denials if your doctor says you should return to work before you are ready. For a free consultation on your case, call Ken Kieklak today at (479) 316-0438.