Should I Return to Work While My Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Case Is Pending?

Sustaining a work injury has many consequences. In addition to the pain and suffering you experience because of the injury and the struggle to recover, you might also incur a loss of income. Florida’s workers’ compensation laws provide lost time benefits for employees injured on the job. 

A work injury could result in temporary total disability. On the other hand, a work injury might result in work restrictions or light duty assignments. Deciding when you should return to work while your Clearwater workers’ compensation case is pending can be confusing.

Related Article: Workers’ Compensation FAQ

Who Decides if an Injured Worker Returns to Work During a Workers’ Compensation Case?

Only your treating physician can determine if your work injuries prevent you from returning to work. Your doctor decides whether to:

  • Place you in a no-work status
  • Return you to work with restrictions 
  • Release you to return to your regular job

In Florida, your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company has the right to choose a doctor to treat your injuries. A worker that requires immediate medical attention can seek treatment at an emergency room. 

If neither the employer nor the insurance provider chooses the doctor, the employee can choose a physician to treat their work-related injury. However, that is usually not the case. Instead, the employer or insurance company typically refers the injured worker to a doctor.

Therefore, what happens if you disagree with the doctor’s opinion regarding your ability to work after an injury? 

You can request to change doctors during your workers’ comp case once. However, the insurer or your employer still chooses the doctor you see. Therefore, the new doctor might still say you can return to work because they are a pro-employer physician. 

If you disagree with your doctor’s determining regarding your work status, you should seek legal advice from a Clearwater workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. 

What Does It Mean To Have Work Restrictions During My Clearwater Workers’ Compensation Case?

The treating physician might determine that you can return to work during your workers’ comp case with restrictions. Work restrictions limit your work duties based on your injuries. Work restrictions could include, but are not limited to:

  • Limit the number of hours you can work while performing full-duty or light duty
  • Cannot lift, push, or pull objects weighing over a specific amount
  • Limit the number of hours you can stand or sit during a shift
  • No reaching over your shoulder, squatting, kneeling, or climbing
  • Not using a specific body part or limb
  • Must take specific rest periods throughout your shift
  • Must work from a seated position 

Whether your employer can offer work that accommodates the restrictions depends on your job and the employer. Only your employer can determine whether it can provide restricted duties. If not, the employer should notify the insurance company that light duty is unavailable.

Related Article: Can I Be Fired After a Workers’ Compensation Injury in Florida?

When Do I Have To Return to Work After a Workplace Accident in Florida?

Every workplace injury is different. Therefore, your return to work depends on several factors. Generally, workers are expected to return to work when they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) unless they have a permanent disability.

The date of maximum medical improvement is defined by Florida statute as when the worker’s condition is not expected to improve based on reasonable medical probability. In other words, your physician determines you have fully recovered from your work injury or that further medical treatment will not improve your condition. 

When you reach maximum medical improvement, you might be unable to return to work. It depends on whether you sustained a permanent impairment that prevents you from performing your job. 

If the doctor, employer, or insurance company tells you to return to work and you disagree, contact a Clearwater workers’ compensation attorney immediately. Refusing to work could result in the loss of workers’ compensation benefits.

What if I Refuse To Return to Work During My Workers’ Compensation Case?

Florida workers’ comp laws state that an employee who refuses suitable employment is not entitled to workers’ compensation during the time of refusal unless a judge of workers’ compensation claims determines the refusal is justifiable. Additionally, your employer could fire you if you refuse to return to work after your doctor releases you to do so.

Florida’s workers’ compensation system can be complicated and difficult to navigate without legal advice. Seek legal advice if you feel forced to work before you heal from a workplace injury. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can guide you through the process of appealing the doctor’s decision and fight for you to get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve.

Related Article: Important Questions to Ask Your Florida Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Contact the Pinellas County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help

For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg workers’ compensation law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
United States
24 hours
(727) 796-8282

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,
United States
24 hours
(727) 349-1728