Many people who suffer a serious injury at work have questions about the rules of Georgia’s workers compensation law. Many of these questions focus on two main areas:
- Getting medical treatment so they can recover from their injury
- What happens under Georgia’s workers compensation law if an injury affects their ability to work
In this article, I am going to provide some information about that second area. More specifically, this article will discuss going back to work after a work injury and the consequences of returning to work.
Does Georgia’s workers compensation law prevent you from getting a job after you have been injured?
The answer to question is easy. Georgia’s law does not prevent you from getting a job.
You can return to work after an injury. You can go back to work for the employer where you got hurt. Also, you can return to work for a different employer.
Although the answer to that question is simple, you have a more complicated decision regarding whether you should return to work. I wish I could tell you that you will go back to work and everything will be great. I cannot tell you that.
No one knows for sure what will happen if you return to work. First, you have very little protection under the law when you return to work.
Most employees in Georgia are “at will” employees. Most people sum this up by saying that your employer can fire you for:
- A good reason,
- A bad reason, or
- No reason at all.
You need to think about whether your employer will likely keep you around or get rid of you once you return. Being fired or laid off by your employer does not end your case, but it will probably make it more difficult.
Do I need to consider what the doctor says before going back to work?
Your doctor knows about your injury. He or she should make recommendations about what work is appropriate for you.
Sometimes, your doctor will recommend that you stay out of work completely. Other times, your doctor will recommend some sort of restricted work.
Following these recommendations could help you prevent reinjury or worsening of your physical condition. If your doctor says that you cannot work but you think that you can, you should discuss that with your doctor.
Your doctor could provide you with information about the reasons he or she is saying that you should not work. That will probably help you make a decision about whether to go back to work or not.
What if my doctor has me on work restrictions?
If your doctor has you on restrictions after an injury, you should certainly consider those restrictions before you return to work. Doctors often give work restrictions to prevent you from suffering additional injury. Violating these restrictions could hurt you and your workers compensation claim.
Also, returning to work can complicate your workers compensation claim. Sometimes, if you go back to work with a different company, then the workers compensation insurance company will argue that they are not responsible for your injury anymore.
The other thing that will happen is that you may end up with a workers compensation case against the new job. This can make your case very complicated. It can also delay your benefits and your treatment.
Why? Although often one of the insurance companies probably will end up responsible, the fight to determine who is responsible can take months or years. This fight delays your treatment and your benefits.
You often have to go to court and get a decision from a judge before one insurance company or the other will pay you any benefits. Also, that decision may be appealed, which may drag things on even longer.
If you do return to work, you need to let the workers compensation insurance company know
Nothing under Georgia’s workers compensation law prevents you from going back to work. But, you cannot receive workers compensation temporary total disability benefits while working (except in rare instances where you are working concurrent dissimilar employment).
So, be sure and let the insurance company know you are working. Also, do not cash temporary total disability checks once you return to work.
You can still receive other weekly workers compensation benefits such as temporary partial disability or permanent partial disability. Also, you can certainly still receive medical benefits if you need medical treatment because of your injury.
What if I have other questions about returning to work after a workers compensation injury?
Many people have questions about returning to work. Some of my other articles about the rules of light duty job offers may answer some of your questions. But, you may also have questions that focus on the specific facts of your case.
I am happy to try to answer questions if you have any. The best way to do this is to schedule a free consultation. You can learn about how a free consultation works in this short article.
Setting up a free consultation is easy. Just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit the request form on this page and we will contact you.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
You can subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation channel on YouTube.