Returning to Work After an Injury: Your Rights and Responsibilities Under Workers Compensation

If you have been injured or become ill because of your work, you may be wondering what your options are for getting back to your normal life. You may also have questions about your rights and responsibilities under the workers’ compensation system in Pennsylvania.

In this blog post, we will explain the main points you need to know about workers’ compensation and returning to work after an injury. We will also provide some tips on how to protect your interests and get the best possible outcome for your situation.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 166,600 nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in Pennsylvania in 2019. These injuries and illnesses can have a significant impact on your health, income, and quality of life.

Fortunately, Pennsylvania has a workers’ compensation system that provides benefits to workers who are injured or become ill as a result of their work. These benefits include medical care, wage loss compensation, specific loss benefits, and death benefits.

However, workers’ compensation is not a simple or straightforward process. There are many rules, deadlines, and challenges that you need to be aware of and follow. You also need to communicate effectively with your doctor, your employer, and your insurer about your condition and your return to work plan.

At RG Injury Law, we are experts in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law. We have helped thousands of injured workers get the benefits they deserve and return to work safely and successfully. We can help you too.

Your rights under workers’ compensation

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that covers most workers in Pennsylvania. This means that you do not have to prove that your employer was negligent or at fault for your injury or illness. You only have to show that it was caused by your work or occurred during the course of your employment.

Workers’ compensation covers a wide range of injuries and illnesses, such as:

  • Traumatic injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains, cuts, burns, amputations, etc.
  • Repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, etc.
  • Occupational diseases, such as asbestosis, silicosis, mesothelioma, etc.
  • Psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, etc.

If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you have the right to:

  1. Receive reasonable and necessary medical care from a provider of your choice (subject to some limitations).
  2. Receive wage loss compensation if you are unable to work or have reduced earnings because of your injury or illness.
  3. Receive specific loss benefits if you lose the use of a body part or function (such as hearing or vision) or suffer disfigurement because of your injury or illness.
  4. Receive death benefits if you die as a result of your injury or illness.

Your rights under workers’ compensation are protected by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act and enforced by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. If you have any questions or concerns about your rights or benefits, you can contact them or consult with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer such as our team at Rankin & Gregory.

Your responsibilities under workers’ compensation

While workers’ compensation provides valuable benefits to injured workers, it also imposes certain responsibilities on them. You need to comply with these responsibilities in order to receive and maintain your benefits.

Your responsibilities under workers’ compensation include:

  1. Reporting your injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible (within 120 days).
  2. Filing a claim petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within three years if your employer or insurer denies or stops paying your benefits.
  3. Following the medical treatment prescribed by your doctor and attending any independent medical examinations requested by your employer or insurer.
  4. Cooperating with any vocational rehabilitation services offered by your employer or insurer.
  5. Notifying your employer or insurer of any changes in your income, employment status, or medical condition.

Failing to fulfill these responsibilities can result in delays, reductions, suspensions, or terminations of your benefits. It can also lead to disputes and litigation with your employer or insurer.

Therefore, it is important that you understand and follow the rules and procedures of the workers’ compensation system. It is also advisable that you keep records of all communications and documents related to your claim. If you encounter any problems or difficulties with your claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer.

Returning to work after an injury

One of the main goals of workers’ compensation is to help injured workers return to work as soon as possible. Returning to work can have many benefits for you, such as:

  • Restoring your income and financial stability
  • Improving your physical and mental health
  • Enhancing your skills and career prospects
  • Boosting your self-esteem and confidence

However, returning to work after an injury is not always easy or straightforward. There are many factors that can affect your ability and readiness to return to work, such as:

  • The nature and severity of your injury or illness
  • The type and availability of medical treatment and rehabilitation services
  • The policies and practices of your employer and insurer
  • The availability and suitability of modified or alternative work

To return to work successfully, you need to have a clear and realistic plan that takes into account these factors. You also need to communicate effectively with your doctor, your employer, and your insurer about your plan.

Your doctor plays a key role in determining your work status and restrictions. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and provide you with a medical report that indicates whether you are:

  1. Fully recovered and able to return to your pre-injury job without any limitations
  2. Partially recovered and able to return to your pre-injury job with some modifications or accommodations
  3. Partially recovered and able to return to a different job that is suitable for your abilities and restrictions
  4. Not recovered and unable to return to any work at this time

You should follow your doctor’s recommendations and keep them updated on your progress. You should also share your medical report with your employer and insurer.

Your employer plays a key role in providing you with work opportunities that match your abilities and restrictions. Your employer may offer you:

Your pre-injury job with no changes

Your pre-injury job with some modifications or accommodations, such as reduced hours, lighter duties, ergonomic equipment, etc.

A different job within the same company that is suitable for your abilities and restrictions, such as a different position, department, location, etc.

No job at this time

You should consider any work offers from your employer carefully and discuss them with your doctor and lawyer. You should also inform your employer and insurer of your decision.

Your insurer plays a key role in paying you benefits according to your work status and earnings. Your insurer may pay you:

  • Full wage loss benefits if you are unable to return to any work
  • Partial wage loss benefits if you are able to return to work but earn less than before your injury
  • No wage loss benefits if you are able to return to work and earn the same or more than before your injury

You should report any changes in your income or employment status to your insurer promptly. You should also keep track of your pay stubs and benefit statements.

Returning to work after an injury can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. With the right plan, communication, and support, you can achieve a successful outcome for yourself and your family.

Workers’ compensation is a complex system that involves many rights and responsibilities for injured workers. If you have been injured or become ill because of your work, you need to know how the system works and how it affects your return to work.

At RG Injury Law, we are here to help you navigate the workers’ compensation system and get the benefits you deserve. We have the knowledge, experience, and skills to handle any workers’ compensation issue or dispute. We will fight for your rights and interests every step of the way.

If you need legal assistance with your workers’ compensation claim or return to work plan, contact us today for a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you on the best course of action. We will also answer any questions you may have and explain how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Don’t wait. Call Rankin & Gregory now at 717.656.5000

 

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