To Return Or Not Return To Work After A Work Injury
If you have experienced a recent workplace injury, you may be wondering when and if you should return to work right away. While your employer needs you, and you know how much work you have piling up, step back for a minute, and reassess your situation. You may be entitled to receive Michigan workers’ compensation benefits to help you through this challenging time.
It’s important to avoid rushing back to work, regardless of any pressure you may feel to do so. As long as your injury hinders your working abilities, your Michigan employer is responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be readying yourself mentally for a return. It just means you will benefit from taking the time to understand your options and what Michigan law allows.
How Quickly Should You Return to Work?
According to the National Safety Council statistics, a workplace injury occurs every seven seconds. This makes for a high number of workers injured on the job daily. Injuries can happen during work-related auto accidents, slips and falls, and in various other ways. Even though the severity of these injuries varies, returning to work too quickly should be avoided.
The first thing you need to do is notify a supervisor of your injury. This must be done within 90 days of the injury’s occurrence. Next, file your claim within the allowable statute of limitations, which is two years in Michigan.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim will set specific legal actions in motion, both on the employer’s part and yours. It’s crucial to know what you are entitled to receive.
What Happens After You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Michigan?
Under Michigan workers’ compensation law, an injured worker is eligible for medical and lost wage benefits. The lost wage benefits can add up to 80% of the worker’s regular wages after tax.
Be aware that your employer’s insurance company will require that you see a doctor they recommend, at least for the first 28 days. From that point, you can contact and work with your own doctor going forward.
The key to your return date hinges on what your doctor recommends. Returning to work too early can lead to being reinjured, resulting in more time away from work. You may also continue to experience pain from the injury if you go back too quickly, making you less productive than before.
Once your doctor provides you with the green light to return to work, for full duty, or with work restrictions, it is vital that you return, at least in some capacity. If necessary, your employer can place you on limited job duties as a way to get you back in the workplace slowly.
Keep in mind that your employer cannot force you to come back to work before you are ready and receive a doctor’s release. If, for any reason, you do feel threatened or pressured to return too early, consult with a Michigan workers’ compensation attorney before going back to work too soon.
What if You Can’t Return to the Same Job?
If your injury prevents you from performing your previous job, you still have options. Working with your doctor’s recommendations and your employer, you may be placed in a modified position, a position with special accommodations, or a different position.
If you must accept a lower-paying position, you will possibly continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits or receive temporary partial disability benefits. During your continued healing, these payments can help meet your previous wage and living expenses.
Still, there is the possibility that your employer has no position which you can move into based on your limitations. If your injury is severe, such as an injury to major parts of your body like your head or back, you may have the option for a claim of lost wages and also for loss of earning capacity going forward.
In addition, your employer is required by Michigan law to provide vocational rehabilitation benefits for up to two years to help you become gainfully employed elsewhere. These benefits may include retraining, tuition, and job-placement services.
Can Your Employer Fire You?
There are instances where an employer cannot accommodate an injured employee, either in the previous position, a new position, or even a switch to light-duty temporarily. Depending on your particular situation, you might be released from employment.
Michigan’s workers’ compensation laws do not protect your job or legally require your employer to hold the position open for any specific amount of time.
In situations such as these, you may continue to receive workers’ compensation for a time. You may, however, at this point, need to contact a personal injury attorney for legal advice. If your case needs to go further, your experienced legal team can handle any settlements or potential workers’ compensation litigation as well.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Michigan Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you sustain a work-related injury, consulting with a Michigan workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get what is rightfully yours. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has many years of experience representing those injured in the workplace and will work with you to win the best outcome for your situation. Give us a call at (866) 642-4529 today to schedule your free consultation.