If you’re injured on the job, part of the healing process is making sure you don’t re-injure yourself or make your injury worse by going back to work too soon or doing work that is too strenuous. When you receive medical treatment for an on-the-job injury, your doctor will document your work restrictions. These restrictions tell you when you can return to work and place limits on the amounts and types of work you should do.
At Fields Law Firm, our Minnesota Workers’ Compensation lawyers understand you want to get back to work as soon as possible so you can provide for your family. But work restrictions help ensure you and your fellow workers stay safe and healthy. If you have a question about working within the limits of your work restrictions, call us at 1-888-343-5375 or fill out our free form. We’re here to answer your questions and help you do what’s best for yourself, your family, and your future.
Your employer can’t fire you for having work restrictions, and they can’t force you to work outside your work restrictions. Your employer must:
- accommodate your work restrictions to the extent possible, or
- find you alternative, appropriate work, or
- provide vocational rehabilitation and training if you can’t do your previous job.
Employers must also allow you to take trips to the doctor so you can receive medical treatment for your injuries.
Injured Worker Responsibilities
When you have a work injury, the first and most important thing that you should do is seek medical attention immediately. When you go to the doctor, you need to inform them that you have a work-related injury. Make it very clear to the doctor or nurse that the injury happened at work and tell them how it happened.
The doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant examining you may have more questions during the examination, so it is important to tell them the truth and tell the same story each time you talk to someone. This is important so that your medical records are consistent. If they are not consistent, the insurance company can use that as a basis for denying your claim.
When restrictions are given to you by the doctor, you have an obligation to provide these restrictions to your Employer. If you have a qualified rehabilitation consultant, your QRC will likely do this for you. Otherwise, it is a good idea to make sure your Human Resources department or supervisor has them right away.
If you do not give your Employer your restrictions, they will expect you to return to work performing your pre-injury job duties. If you haven’t provided a workability slip or restrictions, they can fire you for not returning to work or performing the work available to you.
If the Employer receives the work restrictions and says they have work within your restrictions, you have an obligation to try the work and see if it is within your restrictions. If you find that you cannot perform the work within your restrictions, then you need to inform your Employer as soon as possible and schedule an appointment with your doctor to get updated work restrictions.
If your Employer will not adjust your job requirements or refuses to provide work within your restrictions, contact an attorney. There are options available to you such as vocational rehabilitation services, job retraining, and wage-loss benefits that an experienced work-related injury lawyer can help you with.
What questions should I ask my Doctor about Work Restrictions from a Work Injury?
At each appointment, you should remind your doctor to provide you with updated work restrictions, or a “Report of Workability.” This is for your Employer so that they will know whether or not you are able to work, and if you can work, what activities you can be doing and what activities you should be avoiding.
Oftentimes, these restrictions will include something like “no lifting more than 10 lbs.” or “no repetitive use of the right hand” or “no overhead reaching,” “5 minute breaks every hour to stand and stretch,” or possibly “sit/stand option available.”
You should make sure that the restrictions that you are given make sense with the type of job that you are doing. If you operate heavy machinery and are taking narcotics, make sure that your restrictions reflect that you cannot operate heavy machinery.
If you go back to work and the work is within your restrictions but you still find that you cannot perform the work, you need to explain to your doctor what it is that you are having problems doing, and if the doctor agrees, he/she can adjust your restrictions to appropriately accommodate your condition.
What are my options if my Doctor has me on Work Restrictions?
If your doctor has given you work restrictions, you should follow those work restrictions and make sure your employer knows what your work restrictions are. It is very important that you follow restrictions given to you by your doctor. In addition, if you are being held completely off of work, you may not work.
Light duty work restrictions, or work restrictions that include limitations on such tasks as bending, pushing, pulling, twisting, must be followed. If you have been returned to work with restrictions, your “date of injury” employer should accommodate those restrictions.
You must at least attempt to perform the work that has been offered to you if the job duties are within your restrictions. If you are unable to perform the work, even though it is within your work restrictions, you should contact your doctor immediately to get updated restrictions.
If your employer is unable to accommodate your work restrictions, you may be entitled to wage loss benefits during this time period.
If you are having problems obtaining benefits or accommodations that follow the restrictions given by your doctor, or if you have returned to work with restrictions but your employer does not accommodate these restrictions or consistently asks you to do work that is outside of those restrictions, call us.
We can refer you to a QRC who will assist you with returning to work. A QRC may communicate with the parties involved in your claim to ensure that your employer is accommodating your work restrictions.
Additionally, just because a job offer is within your restrictions does not mean you absolutely have to accept the offer. In addition to the physical demands of the position, a suitable job offer must also be economically suitable and should not require you to substantially alter your lifestyle. This includes factors such as the distance you would need to travel to the proposed job or the hours you are being asked to work.
You may also qualify for Workers Compensation wage loss benefits if you have returned to work in a light duty capacity and earning less than what you were making at the time of injury.
We’re Here To Help
If your doctor has provided you with work restrictions and you have any questions regarding your return to work status, a job offer from your employer, or benefits you may be entitled to following your return to work in a light duty capacity, please call our Injured Worker Hotline at 1-888-343-5375.
If you were sent back to work too soon, fired while on work restrictions, or your employer isn’t accommodating your work restrictions, call us immediately. Our Minnesota Workers Compensation lawyers are happy to speak with you and provide a free consultation to evaluate the legal options you may have. Fields Law is Minnesota’s resource for injured workers, and you can count on us to be there when you need us most.