August 2, 2023
Dealing with Your Employer After a Serious Injury
By Jonathan Damashek
After suffering a devastating injury at work, you may struggle to heal from your injuries and continue supporting yourself and your family. Even though your injuries may be severe, you may find it necessary to get back to work as soon as possible.
However, when your injuries are preventing you from fully returning to work, you may be able to take steps to protect your position and continue earning a living.
When Do You Have to Go Back to Work after an Injury?
After suffering a work injury, the amount of time you will have to take off can depend on the severity of your injuries. Every person’s accident is different. Once you receive workers’ compensation benefits, you can generally return to work once your condition has improved.
However, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may be required to return to work earlier than expected.
In many cases, waiting until your healthcare provider has determined you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) or are healed enough to return to work is in your best interests. This will also go a long way in helping to ensure you are compensated fairly through your insurance claim.
Can I Do my Old Job?
It is more common than you might think for work injuries to prevent you from being able to continue in your same line of work. However, you should not let your fears of being unable to do your old job hold you back from speaking to your human resources department.
Many human resources departments in New York have programs that allow you to continue working or earn a portion of your income for reduced job responsibilities. Some of these programs could include:
- Stay-at-work programs – These programs allow employees to work with a company to get the support or accommodations they may need to stay on the job and continue earning a living.
- Return-to-work programs – Your employer may have a return-to-work program that works with your healthcare provider to determine which restrictions you need, what activities you are cleared to do, and whether you can transition to light duty. Generally, light duty may be less physically demanding and emotionally taxing than your standard job responsibilities.
Not every company has return-to-work and stay-at-work programs in place. However, if you can perform some of your former work responsibilities or can work light duty, you may be able to keep your job and continue earning a living.
However, if you are incapable of continuing to do your job while you heal from your injuries, or if your injuries are so severe that you will no longer be able to continue in your former position, you may be wondering what options are available to you.
You may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits, which could get you the job training or educational opportunities you need to re-enter the workforce.
What Happens if I’m Fired for My Injuries?
If you were terminated after suffering an on-the-job injury, you might have the right to pursue legal action against your employer. If you were retaliated against before reporting your work injury or attempting to access the paid time off or other benefits you are entitled to, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination claim.
Generally, when you involve an attorney, your employer may see reason. The last thing they want is to be the subject of a wrongful termination lawsuit or accusations of employment law violations.
Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations and discriminating against someone due to an injury are protected under state and federal employment laws. Failure to adhere to these laws could result in monetary sanctions, citations, and other penalties for the company.
Fortunately, when you are hoping to get your job back or hold your employer accountable for their actions, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover the compensation and benefits you need to heal from your injuries, continue supporting yourself and your family, and set yourself up for success once you have reached MMI.
Call HKD for Help with your Employment Concerns
Deciding when to go back to work after suffering a severe injury is a sensitive conversation to have with your healthcare provider.
If you have been discriminated against after suffering a work injury, or if you need help obtaining reasonable accommodation so you can stay at work, do not hesitate to contact our New York employment law attorneys at Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. for help.