by Karl Voigt
What if you have been injured at work and your employer offers you a return to work? There are occasions after a work injury in which a Claimant is released to return to work in some capacity. What happens after that?
A Claimant can be released if a treating doctor releases a patient to return to work, or he can be sent to an independent medical examination (IME) and released. Once released to return to work in any capacity, an employer may choose to offer you a job. That employer may be highly motivated to do so, as it will reduce their cost of your work injury.
First off, if your treating doctor releases you to work and your employer offers that modified work, there is very little choice but to give it a go. Naturally, if you can do it, do it!
If, however, an IME doctor says you can return to work, and your treating doctor disagrees, that’s when it’s time to weigh the options. If an IME doctor who’s seen you only once says you can return to work, your employer legally doesn’t even have to abide by your doctor’s opinions. Many factors have to be considered before making the final call. Would the return to work pose a physical danger to you? Would that return earn you the same wage as before your injury? How would the return affect your wage loss benefits. What would happen if you could not physically do the job?
You can rest assured that, if you decline the offer, the employer will file a petition against you to reduce your wage loss benefits, so it’s definitely time to be prepared. If you don’t have an attorney, this is the point at which it’s typically time to talk with one.