You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer a workplace injury. These benefits can help to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. If you receive an injury at work, you should notify your employer immediately and ask for the name of their workers’ compensation carrier so you can file a claim.
What happens, however, if you’re asked to return to work before you think you are ready?
You need to proceed carefully to protect your rights
In general, your workers’ comp physician controls the decisions about whether or not you’re medically capable of returning to work, with or without restrictions. Sometimes, an “employer-friendly physician” may have the company’s interests more in mind than yours.
If this happens, you may have a few options. You are usually required to treat with your employer’s listed panel of physicians for the first 90 days following your injury before you can choose to see your own doctor. If you choose your own physician for a second opinion during that time, the visit will not be covered by the workers’ comp carrier.
However, the mere fact that you’re of one opinion and your workers’ comp doctor is of another is a sign of trouble for your claim. You cannot flat-out refuse to return to work without putting your benefits totally at risk. That makes legal action almost a necessity.
If you feel that you are unable to return to work or your condition isn’t being taken seriously, you can file a petition with the Office of Adjudication. A workers’ comp judge will work with you and the employer to try to find a resolution. If the judge rules in favor of the employer, you can then file an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and the Commonwealth Court. Experienced guidance can help.