While most employers will cooperate with medical restrictions, there are some who will try and use them as a basis for termination.
After a workplace injury, an employee is allowed by law to seek medical treatment until the physician in charge determines that the employee has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means that in the physician’s opinion, no further medical care or procedure will improve the condition or injury sustained. In some cases, the employee has reached a full recovery where all normal functions have been restored, while for others, they may be left with a permanent disability.
Achieving MMI does not necessarily mean the employee can jump right back into prior work duties. Certain restrictions may be given by the physician, limiting the amount and/or type of duties the employee may perform. For example, a waitress suffering from an elbow injury may be able to return to the restaurant but not allowed to carry heavy trays of food.
The Employer’s Choices
If the employer feels he or she can not comply with the medical restrictions imposed on the employee, the employer has the right to tell the worker not to return to work. This does, however, generally enable the employee to continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits since the employee is unable to perform the same job at the time of the injury.
It would benefit the employer to comply with the work restrictions and offer an alternative position. If the employer takes the employee back but does not respect the restrictions, the employee should hire a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney and appeal the cessation of benefits.
Case Study – Compensation From the Second Injury Fund
A Missouri employee had a similar situation when he hurt his back while lifting heavy objects as his job entailed. He sought immediate medical treatment and was seen by various physicians before he was given MMI. At his request, the physician that released him specified in a return to work letter that the employee would no longer be able to lift heavy items or drive certain heavy machinery.
To further complicate matters, the employee in this instance was also illiterate, making any type of desk job out of the question. The employer tried to use this fact to their benefit, stating that it qualified the employee for compensation from the second injury fund, and that they could not be held responsible for his not being able to read and write in order to find gainful employment. The workers’ compensation board disagreed and ordered that the employer pay a weekly benefit of $340.55 for the remainder of his life in addition for continued treatment of his back injury.
Do Not Be a Victim!
While most employers will be cooperative with medical restrictions, there are some who will try and use them as a basis for termination without having to pay any more benefits. Do not fall victim to this. Contact a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney from The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann to enforce your rights to compensation.