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Returning to Work After a Work Injury When You Have Limitations

Make sure your rights are protected by working with an experienced St. Louis workers comp attorney.

Workers’ compensation claims are often complicated. The laws are not always easy to understand and the situation can be made all the more complicated by the particularities of every case.

One common question many injured workers have after suffering a work injury is “what happens when I return to work?

What Happens When You Return to Work?

A workers’ comp case can end up with the injured worker needing to take some time off work. That’s a decision left to the doctor, who will tell you that your injuries require full rest to heal.

In some cases, however, the doctor can clear you to return to work, but you will not be able to perform the exact same job you did before the injury. This is known as “modified work,” in which your work duties will be slightly modified to accommodate your injury. For instance, you may be moved temporarily to a new department where you don’t have to perform any physical tasks.

Employers are required by workers’ compensation laws to reasonably accommodate you if you return to work. However, this “reasonable” can sometimes work against the injured worker.

What Does It Mean?

You should know that your employer does not have to bend over backward in order to welcome you back to work. They must act in good faith (meaning they cannot simply claim they can’t fit you in anymore), but not at the expense of the company or other employees there.

This means the employer can simply say they cannot accommodate you if:

  • The genuinely can’t offer any modified work
  • They have no other position within the company appropriate for you
  • The changes required are too expensive

Additionally, this modified work is intended to be temporary. If your injury may result in long-term effects that will prevent you from ever performing your initial job, the employer is not legally required to offer you another position at your job.

What Should the Employer Do When You Go Back to Work?

When returning to work, your employer should:

  • Offer modified work
  • Be prepared with any reasonable equipment/change to accommodate your injuries (such as a chair, or a desk closer to the bathroom)
  • Not single you out or discriminate against you for your modified work.

What If I Lose My Job?

The harsh reality is that a lot of injured workers end up losing their job if they cannot return to work and perform their previous job. As previously mentioned, your employer is not responsible for finding you employment if your injury changes you for good, and in this case, you can either apply for disability benefits or find another, more suitable job.

Have you been injured at work? Make sure your rights are protected by working with an experienced St. Louis workers comp attorney. If you have any questions at all concerning your work injury case, contact the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann by calling us at (314) 361-4300 or by filling out our online contact form.

Updated: December 17, 2019