Returning to Work After a Work Accident – Questions and Answers
If you suffered a work related injury, at some point, you will most likely have to return to work. For many, returning to work after a work accident raises questions. Below are just a few of the top questions that our clients ask us in these situations.
Is my employer required to pay me for the time I spend attending medical appointments?
No they are not required to pay you for the time you spend attending medical appointments. The same is true for their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. It is unfortunate, but that is the current law in Florida.
It is best if you try to schedule your appointments either before work, after work, or on the weekends, if possible. If none of these options work, then you may want to consider sick leave or vacation time. If you think this might be a good option for you, talk to your employer. Let them know that you would like to use your leave this way and see if they will allow it. By doing this, you are able to make up any wages you lose by attending medical appointments.
My employer cut my pay, and/or reduced my hourly wage. He also gave me different job duties because I am on light duty. Do I have to live on less money?
The answer to this question depends on two things.
- Whether you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
- How much of a pay cut you incur in your wages.
You Have Reached Maximum Medical Improvement
If you have reached MMI, the answer to this question will be yes. After MMI you are no longer eligible for temporary lost wage benefit payments (temporary total or temporary partial disability per 440.15(2)(a), F.S.). Therefore, you would have to live on less money.
However, if you reach MMI you should have an Impairment Rating. With an Impairment Rating, you may be eligible to receive impairment income benefits (see Section 440.15(3), Florida Statutes).
Your Impairment Rating and your average weekly wage determines your Workers’ Compensation benefits. This is the wage calculated by the workers’ compensation carrier. If you know these numbers, you can call us at (904) 777-7777 and we can explain to you how your impairment benefits pay out.
You Have Not Reached MMI
It is a different story if you have NOT reached MMI. You may be eligible to receive Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefit payments. There are conditions for receiving these benefits.
- You have not reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).
- You can return to work on light or restricted duty.
- Your work restrictions cause you to lose MORE than 20 percent of your pre-injury Average Weekly Wage (AWW).
If you meet these qualifications, you may be eligible to receive Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefit payments.
What should I do if I believe that my light duty is making my injuries worse?
If you believe that the light duty work assigned by your employer is making your injury worse, contact your workers’ compensation doctor immediately. Make an appointment to have your work status re-evaluated as soon as possible.
Usually, when this occurs, the doctor will either will done one of three things:
- Take you out of work totally
- Change your work restrictions
- Leave your work status unchanged.
Explain carefully to the doctor what your work duties are and what exactly about the work duties is making your injury worse.
If the doctor leaves your work status unchanged, you must return to work. This is regardless of your complaints of pain or discomfort. Workers’ compensation will not pay you for staying home due to complaints of pain or discomfort alone. The doctor has to sign off.
If you fail or refuse to return to work, you forfeit your eligibility for any lost wage benefits you may be eligible to receive.
More Returning to Work after a Work Accident Questions
This is just a small sample of the top questions asked on a daily basis. If you have suffered a workers’ compensation injury and have questions, we can help.
Call our Jacksonville Workers’ Compensations Attorneys at (904) 777-7777 or email us using our simple online contact form. We offer a free consultation for all Workers’ Compensation clients. We can sit down and discuss your case and your legal rights.