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Who decides when an injured worker can safely return to work?

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Work injuries can range dramatically, from minor burns caused by equipment malfunctions to head injuries sustained during falls. Workers injured on the job in Connecticut can typically expect that workers’ compensation will help them in the wake of sustaining such harm.

Those who submit a workers’ compensation claim may obtain medical benefits that will pay for their treatment. They may also qualify for disability benefits if they require time away from their job to recover. There are even partial disability benefits available for those who cannot work in the same profession because of the limitations caused by their injuries.

Disability benefits either stop or decline in value when someone is able to return to work. Who generally decides when it is the right time for an injured employee to get back to their job?

Doctors determine what injured workers can do

Obviously, employers largely prefer to have workers back on the job as soon as possible, but they may put the business’s bottom line ahead of a worker’s physical well-being. Therefore, it typically falls to the physician overseeing the treatment necessitated by a work-acquired medical condition to determine when the affected employee can get back to work.

Occasionally, there may be some disagreement about whether a worker can return. The state generally wants to see people back on the job as soon as possible.  The longer workers are away from employment, the less likely they are to fully regain the earning potential they had before their diagnosis. Physicians often recommend returning to work with certain limitations or accommodations for the employee. For example, the worker may not be able to do the same tasks they previously did or may require assistive technology to do their job safely.

When a worker strongly disagrees with a physician’s determination that they can go back to work, they may require a second opinion.  Workers may need to pay for that second opinion themselves, as the only time that workers’ compensation guarantees a covered second opinion is when a physician recommends surgery. Still, getting a second opinion and appealing a return-to-work decision could be a smart step, as it may help the worker continue receiving benefits and can protect them from worsening injury caused by returning to work too soon.

Ultimately, learning more about the rules that apply during a worker’s compensation claim can help an employee protect both their short-term finances and their long-term physical well-being.  The worker’s compensation attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can help.

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