In difficult economic times, many of my clients are worried about losing their jobs. Fear of job loss sometimes causes injured workers to delay reporting their work injuries in the first place, and the same fear prompts workers to try to return to work as soon as possible after a job injury.
I think that you would be taking a very real risk if you assume that not reporting or downplaying your work injury will help you in the long run. Insurance companies in particular see injured workers as future risks, especially if you work in an industry that involves physical labor or where job injuries are common.
If your injury is such that you have been off work and collecting temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, you should be very careful about returning to work quickly in an effort to “cooperate.”
Do Not Return to Work Before Obtaining Form WC-240
Specifically, if you return to work without first requesting and receiving State Board Form WC-240 from your employer, and you discover that you cannot perform the work because of your injuries, your benefits will not resume automatically – and in some cases, you will have to hire a lawyer, request a hearing and wait several months to get before a judge. You can read more about the important State Board form WC-240 on my blog.
I frequently speak with injured workers who are struggling with the decision about whether to hire a lawyer and therefore engage their employer and its insurer in a workers’ compensation battle, as opposed to cooperating with the company provided medical care and returning to work with as little fuss as possible.
Obviously you do not want to end up waiving or forfeiting rights in an effort to cooperate, only to find yourself out of a job, with no benefits and no medical care.
Seek Advice from Your Lawyer Before Trying to Return to Work
Generally, I tell prospective clients who call me (and calling me at 770-351-0801 to discuss the question of whether to pursue a claim with a lawyer does not cost or commit you to anything) that if your injury is serious enough to keep you out of work for more than a few days, or if your injury requires some sort of medical procedure, then you should not assume that pleasant cooperation will serve your well.
Returning to work following a work injury can have significant consequences and taking this step blindly can harm you and your case. So, yes you can try to return to work but you should think seriously about doing so without first speaking to a workers’ comp. lawyer.