In a workers’ compensation case, your employer’s needs and your needs are often quite different. Your employer will want to have you return to work as soon as possible, but that may not be the best choice for you when you’re receiving workers’ comp benefits. You might wonder if you can get a settlement from workers’ compensation even if you go back to work.
Worrying about whether or not you’ll still be able to receive compensation after returning to work is a very valid concern—and it depends on certain details of your case.
How Do I Know When I Should Go Back to Work?
If you were hurt at work, it’s generally best to make sure you are cleared by your doctor before returning to your job. If you’re not physically and mentally prepared to handle the regular demands of your work, you can risk getting injured again—and possibly even worse than last time.
Before going back to back, your doctor should determine you are well enough to fulfill your job duties and not make your condition worse. A workers compensation lawyer can also help you weigh the pros and cons of returning to work—including whether or not you can still get a settlement from your workers’ comp claim.
How Does Going Back to Work Risk My Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
Yes, going back to work before you’re physically ready can be risky—both for your health and your workers’ compensation claim. The two main risks are:
- Your employer decides to let you go
- You losing temporary total disability benefits through your workers’ compensation
Returning to work too soon may mean you’re unable to perform your job duties sufficiently, which could lead your employer to terminate your employment. Plus, trying to work could lead you to lose your disability benefits, as those are only provided when you are unable to work at all for a certain period of time. This means you would be unable to seek a settlement through workers’ compensation.
In the worst-case scenario, you could be left without a job, injuries that are still healing, and no workers comp wages to help as you try to recover and find a new position.
On the other hand, if you are cleared by your doctor to return to work, you will need to do so as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could lose your benefits for not going back to work if it’s been determined you are now able to work. If you’re unsure of the best course of action in your situation, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help.
Should I Make Sure I’m Fully Healed Before Going Back to Work?
If you are currently seeking a settlement from the workers’ compensation insurance company, it likely means you have serious injuries that are still receiving treatment and that prevents you from working as you did before. If you go back to work, the insurance company might claim you don’t need a higher settlement because you are well enough to return to work.
In most cases, while you’re seeking a settlement through working compensation, you will need to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before returning to work. A doctor will need to determine you have reached MMI, which is the point at which your condition cannot be improved any further.
Can I Get a Settlement if I Go Back to Work With Restrictions?
If you reach your MMI but are still partially disabled, your doctor may clear you to work but give you certain restrictions. You might get a list of activities you should not perform at your job.
Under workers’ compensation, you may be offered a lower-level job that you can perform with your disability, which will allow you to continue working. If the new position pays less than your previous one, you should be able to receive weekly wages to account for the difference (Georgia Code section 34-9-262).
As long as you have been given permission to go back to work, you should still be able to receive your workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the details of your case, you might also be able to pursue a settlement. The best way to know for sure is by talking to a lawyer who can examine your situation and how it relates to Georgia workers’ compensation laws.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
If you are injured at work, you’ll need to protect your legal rights to workers’ compensation. Most of the time, you will have trouble getting a settlement from workers comp if you go back to work before you are cleared to do so. It’s best to get a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side early on so they can help you make the best decisions your case.
Our experienced and compassionate workers compensation lawyers at John Foy & Associates are here to help you with your workers’ comp claim and any questions you have surrounding a settlement. We have been representing injured workers for over 20 years, and we have a thorough understanding of how workers comp laws work in Georgia.
Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation with the best lawyer for your case. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started today.