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Can I Get a Settlement From Workers’ Comp if I Go Back to Work?

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Although your employer may want you to return to work as quickly as possible, that might not be best for you, especially if you're receiving workers' compensation benefits. Some injured employees might wonder if getting a settlement is still possible even after returning to work.

Having handled several personal injury cases as a workers' compensation attorney, I can safely say that it depends on your case. 

In this article, I will tell you about some factors that will play into whether or not you can still receive a settlement from workers' compensation.

Quick Summary

  • Workers' comp is supposed to help injured workers, but sometimes the medical expenses are so high that employers get upset.
  • When you go back to work, it's critical to be cautious. If you return too soon, you might not be able to do your job effectively, risking your settlement from workers' compensation.
  • Even after returning to work, an injured employee may be eligible for a lump sum payment, but the circumstances of their case will determine it.

When Should You Go Back to Work?

Two coworkers casually talking outside

You should go back to work when you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) and have been approved to work by your doctor. However, there are also three factors you need to consider.

1. You and Your Employer’s Relationship

Even if workers' comp protects the injured worker from covering all of their medical treatment and expenses, some will be upset since it has caused their insurance premiums to rise. 

Before returning to work, consider the link between your job and your relationship with your employer. If things were already bad, exploring other employment options elsewhere might be a good idea.

2. Your Condition

Even with workers' compensation, your injuries may be too severe to consider your prior state. 

If this is the case, you might inquire about a different job at the same firm. If not, it is possible to receive a lump sum settlement even after returning to work, but it will depend on your workers' compensation case.

3. Advice of Your Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Suppose your workers' comp attorney tells you to return to work; listening to them might be a good idea. They have a lot of experience with these cases and know what is best for you and your family. 

Can I Still Reach a Settlement if I Go Back to Work?

Yes, you can still reach a settlement if you go back to work. Workers' compensation is designed to help you heal from workplace injury and return to work as quickly as possible. 

Workers' comp is also designed to provide financial support for your medical bills. However, if you recover and are ready to return to work before a settlement is reached, you and your attorney will continue to negotiate with the workers' compensation insurance company.

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Does Going Back to Work Risk a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?

A worker calling the office while beside a broken car

No, going back to work does not risk a workers' compensation settlement. Returning to work is often encouraged by the insurance company.

However, in some situations, returning to work can risk a workers' compensation settlement in a few different ways.

  • The first way is if you return to work and then get injured again. If this happens, it will be more challenging to prove that you suffer from a work-related injury.
  • The second way going back to work can risk a settlement is if you return to work and can perform all of your job duties without any restrictions.

If the insurance company sees that you can work without limitations, they may be less likely to offer you a settlement.

  • The third way is if you return to work and your employer tries to fire you or retaliate against you somehow. If this scenario, you may be able to file a separate claim for retaliation or wrongful termination.

You could also lose your disability benefits if you try to work before you can do so for a certain period. This means that if something happens at work, you will not be able to get a settlement from workers' compensation.

See all related personal injury and accident lawsuits our lawyers have taken on.

Going Back to Work With Restriction

An office worker doing work on a computerTo go back to work with restrictions, you might not be able to do the same tasks you did before, or you might have to do them differently.

This often occurs when injured workers reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) but are not entirely healed.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need them [1]. This includes workers returning to work with a temporary or permanent disability after injury.

Reasonable accommodations may be necessary for these employees to do their jobs effectively. However, if providing these accommodations would create an excessive hardship for the employer, they are not required to do so.

In that case, your employer might have the legal right to move you to another job or terminate your employment.

"After a workplace injury, you can recover workers' compensation. This covers your lost wages because the work-related injury and its impairments kept you away from work completely. These payments are often known as temporary total disability benefits."
- Neil Shouse, Attorney

FAQs

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation if I Go Back to Work?

Yes, you can receive workers' compensation if you go back to work. If your doctor says you can do some light work, or if they place restrictions on the kind of work you can do, you may be able to keep receiving workers' compensation benefits. 

Do I Have to Return to Work Before Getting a Workers’ Comp Settlement?

No, you don't have to return to work before getting a workers' comp settlement. Many workers' compensation claims get settled without you returning to work.

Can My Employer Retaliate Against Me for the Open Workers’ Comp Claim?

No, your employer can't retaliate against you for the open workers' comp claim because it will be considered illegal.

Can Your Settlement Include Two Types of Income Benefits for the Same Period?

No, your settlement can't include two types of income benefits for the same period. Your total disability payments will stop when your benefits switch from temporary total disability benefits to permanent partial disability benefits.

What if My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp?

If your employer doesn't have workers' comp, they will have to pay your workers' comp benefits directly. This means the employer must provide whatever benefits an insurance company normally provides for workers' comp.

How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Case Take To Settle?

The amount of time it takes for a workers' comp case to settle will depend on the specifics of your case and the nature and severity of your medical care and injuries. 

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The amount of time you have to file a workers' compensation claim is 45 days. It is preferred that you inform your employer about the incident in writing as soon as possible.

File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

You must consult a workers' compensation lawyer if you suffer a workplace injury. Fling for workers' comp can be complicated, so it's essential to have a workers' compensation attorney who knows how to navigate it successfully.

At Schmidt & Clark, our personal injury lawyers know workers' compensation law. They can help you understand your rights and legal options in pursuing a settlement from workers' compensation. Contact us immediately for a free consultation on how to receive workers' compensation benefits.


References:

  1. https://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor62335

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