Return to Work And Workers’ Compensation: What You Need To Know

Many Injured Workers, after they have recovered from their industrial injuries, are “returned to work” by their doctors. This “Return To Work” can occur in a variety of ways.   This article is intended to discuss the ways that Injured Workers are returned to work after their workers’ compensation injury claim.

How Does an Injured Worker Get Returned to Work? 

Generally, an Injured Worker is returned to work by their Primary Treating Physician. This return to work in a variety of ways.  This can depend on the Injured Worker’s Medical Status.  There can be a Return to Work on a temporary basis. There can be a Return to Work on a permanent basis. There can be a Return To Work with limitations and/or restrictions on a temporary basis. There can be a Return To Work with limitations and/or restrictions on a permanent basis. There can be a Return To Work with no limitations.

Return to Work issues can also arise when a Qualified Medical Evaluator or an Agreed Medical Evaluator opines on the Injured Worker’s ability to return to work.

When Does an Injured Worker Get Returned to Work? 

In Workers’ Compensation, when an Injured Worker has an acute injury, illness or condition, an Injured Worker will be sent for medical treatment.   The Treating Physician, as part of their duties, has an obligation to address the Injured Worker’s ability to return to work.   In sum, after seeing a Treating Physician, the Injured Worker will be provided a disability slip.   The disability slip, if it does not take the Injured Worker off of work, will provide “return to work” instructions to the Employer.

The Physician’s motivation returning the Injured Worker back to work can be multi-factorial.  There can be pressure from the Employer on the Physician to return the Injured Worker back to the job.   There can be pressure from the Insurance Company on the Physician to return the Injured worker back to the job.   Sometimes, there can be pressure from the Injured Worker on the Physician to return back to the job.

Whose Medical Reporting is to be Honored? 

This is truly an issue of controversy.   Within Workers’ Compensation Law, Treating Physician’s reporting and Qualified Medical Evaluator reporting are given equal weight.   Within the Workers’ Compensation Law, only an Agreed Medical Evaluator carries a greater weight over another reporting physician.

Many Employers have different policies as to which Physician’s Return to Work orders.   Some Employers only accept certain Physician’s Reporting. For example, some Employers will only honor the reporting of the physician who took them off of work with respect to a “return to work” slip.  Sometimes, there may be a union contract or memorandum of understanding that can dictate which doctor’s note will be honored. As a result of this lack of clarity, there can be conflict as far as an Injured Worker’s return to work. An employer can rely on one physician’s opinion while an employee can rely on another physician’s opinion.   These disputes can spill out of the area of workers’ compensation into other areas of employment law.

What are the Varieties of “Return to Work” Options that Can Occur? 

There are many ways of how Injured Workers are returned to work.   These include Return to Full Duty/Regular Work, a Return to Light Duty, a Return to Modified Duty, a Return to Alternative Work, and a Return to Reduced Hours.

  • Return To Full Duty/Regular Work: A Return to Full Duty/Regular Work implies that the Injured Worker can return to their job with no restrictions.  Full duty means that employee’s usual occupation or the position in which the employee was engaged at the time of injury.
  • Return to Light Duty:  A Return to Light Duty implies that the Injured Worker can perform activities with minimal physical demands.
  • Return to Modified Duty: A Return to Modified Duty can include various work restrictions or limitations.
  • Return to Alternative Work:  A Return to Alternative Work implies that the Injured Worker will return to perform work entirely different from their usual and customary occupation.   For example, an outside Maintenance Worker can be provided work inside an office answering phones.
  • Return to Full Duty with Reduced Hours:   A Return to Full Duty with Reduced Hours implies that the Injured Worker can perform their usual and customary occupation without limitations.   The only condition, however, is that they cannot do it for an entire work day.   For example, a typist can be returned to that position but only for 4 hours out of an 8-hour job.

Is there Any Legal Importance in Workers’ Compensation to Being Returned to Work? 

If there is a failure of the Employer/Insurance Company in offering regular, modified, or alternative work within 60 days after the Insurance Company received the Physician’s Return to Work & Voucher Report, then the Injured Worker may be entitled to a Supplemental Job Displacement Nontransferable Voucher Form.   This can also include an additional Displacement Benefit from the State of California.

If I am Having Trouble With My Employer Returning Me Back to Work, What Should I Do? 

Industrially Injured Workers are afforded a variety of protections from discrimination.  Worker’ Compensation Law provides for protection from discrimination pursuant to Labor Code Section 132a.   In addition to Workers’ Compensation Law, Injured Workers also have protections under the American with Disabilities Act and California Fair Employment and Housing Act.  If the Injured Worker is a member of a Union, there may be some recourse within the union contract or memorandum of understanding.

In sum, if an Injured Worker is having problems with respect to returning to work, consultations with both workers’ compensation attorneys and employment law attorneys may be indicated.

What If I Need Advice? 

If you would like a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation claim, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. They have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their worker’s compensation cases for 26 years. Contact us today for more information.

Diagnostic Testing And Workers’ Compensation: What You Need To Know

Within Workers’ Compensation, Injured Workers are requested to undergo diagnostic testing. This article will discuss the importance of diagnostic testing and why it is important for the Injured Worker’s claim to get the proper diagnostic testing.

What is Diagnostic Testing?

Diagnostic Testing, within the field of medicine, is used to evaluate an individual’s medical status.  Testing takes many shapes and forms.  Testing can be used to determine as to whether someone has a particular diagnosis.   Sometimes, testing can be used to “rule out” as to whether an individual has a medical condition. Continue reading

Burn Injuries and Workers’ Compensation: What You Need to Know

In the Workforce, there are many workers who are at risk for sustaining burn injuries.  Many occupations expose workers to the risk of burns. These occupations include firefighting, food processing, and construction. Burn injuries can be serious. They can cause the need for extensive treatment, create severe impairments with respect to the ability to work, and severely impact an individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Continue reading

occupational injuries

Welding & Cancer Risks: Welding & Workers’ Compensation: What You Need To Know

Many Employees work in environments which place them at a greater risk for occupational injuries and occupational disease. One of the occupations that have a unique risk for cancer is the Welding Trade. For those individuals who work in that Trade, it is important for them to know about the particular medical conditions that may arise as a result of their employment.

In event that they succumb to those conditions, it is important for Welders to know that they can claim workers’ compensation benefits for diseases which arise from their trade. Workers’ Compensation benefits allow for the Injured Worker to claim medical treatment and compensation. This would include payment for cancer treatment. Continue reading

The Biblical Roots of The Treatment of The Disabled: Passover, The Story Of Exodus, And The Biblical View Of The Disabled

Too often, as Lawyers who represent the disabled, we fixate on current laws and views concerning the disabled.   We are constantly addressing the existing and changes in the laws with fields such as workers’ compensation, disability pension law and the American with Disabilities Act.

Protecting the Rights of the Disabled & American with Disabilities Act

Sometimes, it is important to take a look back in time to gain some perspective and understanding as to why we as a society are concerned with protecting the rights of the disabled.  After stepping back from our current laws, you can discover that the rights of the disabled actually date back thousands of years.  The rights of the disabled were expressed in the Bible.  At that time, society expressed a view of the disabled and what their role in society.  It appears that we carry those views forward to the present day. Continue reading