Workplace injury law was developed to protect workers and repay them for injuries they sustain at work. Government organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been developed to monitor working conditions and maintain a benchmark level of safety for workers.
Employees must understand that not only is their employer responsible for providing a safe workplace, but they must also support you when you suffer injuries on the worksite.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,333 workers died from work-related injuries in the U.S. in 2019. There were 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalents (FTE) workers in 2018. In 2019, the nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses rate among private industry employees was 2.8 cases per 100 FTE. Injuries, illnesses, and fatalities are common in the workplace.
Private industry workers incurred 2.8 million injuries or illnesses in 2019, unchanged from 2018. So, if you have been a victim of a workplace injury and if you believe that your company has failed to follow government regulations established by OSHA, you should contact a lawyer.
If you have been injured on the job, you can get help in various ways. But the big question is:
What if I disagree with my employer about when I can return to work?
If you, your employer, and workers’ compensation doctors cannot agree on your return to work, there are indeed some options that you can explore. The first thing that will happen is you will be asked to attend an Independent Medical Exam performed by a doctor your employer’s insurance company chooses.
Often, the exam results show that you have recovered and can return to work. Typically, the doctor will say that you can resume your regular work duties without restriction, and you will receive documentation that allows you to return to work. However, if you disagree with this decision, there are a few steps that you can follow:
- If both your employer and the company physician say you can go back to work: You do have the option of seeking a second opinion. You can see your doctor, and if they believe that you should not return to work, you can dispute the decision to go back. Your employer can file a petition in disagreement, but you will continue to receive your benefits until a judge hears your case.
- If both your employer and your doctor say you can go back to work: In this case, if you refuse to go back to work, you will likely lose your workers’ compensation benefits. However, you can always seek the help of legal professionals who know how to move your case forward.
When your doctor releases you on light duty?
During your recovery, there may come a time when your doctor decides that you can return to work but only on light duty. This means that you are physically able to perform some tasks but not all of your previous duties due to medical restrictions. If this does happen to you and your employer does not have a light-duty job available, you may be able to continue to receive your benefits.
However, if a light-duty job is available for you, your doctor will first have to approve the duties. If payment for light duty is less than what you earned before, you may also be eligible for partial benefits.
Once you return to work, workers’ compensation insurance should still pay for any ongoing medical expenses due to your work-related injury.
Additionally, your full benefits may be reinstated if:
- You are terminated without proper cause.
- Your doctor reevaluates your condition and decides that you should stop working.
However, you should know that just because you have been injured at work does not mean you qualify for worker’s compensation. While a lawyer can guide you better, here are some guidelines that your workplace injury must fall under for you to be able to file a claim:
- The injury must have occurred at the workplace or while performing official duties
- You must not have violated any company rules or state laws in the course of being injured
- You must be a full-time employee; in most cases
- You were not negligent in causing the accident
If you qualify for worker’s compensation, here’s what you can do.
File a claim with your employer
By informing your employer and filing an injury claim, you are creating a record of the incident that will be referenced by your employer and their insurance company and help you receive compensation.
Seek medical help
Even if you do not believe your injury is severe, you should still seek medical attention from a licensed doctor. Your doctor will not only diagnose your injuries, but they can also inform you what treatment method you will need and when you can return to work.
Seek legal help
An attorney can assist you with filing your claim, negotiating with your employer and the insurance company regarding the compensation you receive, and ensuring that you are not forced back to work before you have properly recovered under the guidance of an unbiased physician.
A Personal Injury Lawyer can help you take the right steps to avoid financial hardship and other complications. Our attorneys have extensive industry experience and can handle everything on your behalf. Getting maximum compensation for your injuries does not have to be an overwhelming process.