Depending on the type and seriousness of your injuries, you may be able to return to work—perhaps with restrictions—while you’re recovering and completing your medical treatment. Sometimes, though, restrictions are too extensive or the employer doesn’t have a job available that accommodates your limitations. In those cases, you may be off work and collecting workers’ compensation payments for weeks, months, or occasionally even a year or more.
If you’re disabled to the point of being hospitalized, in a rehabilitation facility, or bedridden, your next steps will typically be mapped out clearly by your medical team. But, what if you’re unable to return to your job during recovery, but not fully disabled?
Follow Medical Advice While Collecting Workers’ Compensation
The most important thing you can and should do while collecting workers’ compensation benefits is to carefully and fully follow instructions provided by your treating physician. This includes both pursuing medical care as recommended and observing restrictions.
The Importance of Follow-Up Medical Care
You must faithfully keep follow-up appointments, take prescribed medications, participate in rehabilitative activities, and otherwise do everything instructed to aid in your recovery. The first and most important reason for following your doctor’s instructions is that failing to do so could jeopardize your recovery.
Failing to pursue appropriate medical treatment can also harm your workers’ compensation claim, perhaps resulting in loss of benefits. So, whatever else you are doing while collecting workers’ compensation, it is critical that you prioritize showing up for your doctor appointments, getting any tests your physician orders, doing prescribed exercises, and following any other instructions you’ve received.
Leisure Activities While on Workers’ Compensation
Often, an injury that is not wholly disabling will nonetheless prevent you from working in your regular job for a time. When that happens, the employer may offer a job that is consistent with the restrictions placed by the workers’ compensation doctor. However, that isn’t always possible. For instance, a manufacturing plant or warehouse may not have sufficient work available for an employee with significant lifting restrictions.
Under those circumstances, you’ll likely be able to go on about your life to a degree, though you’re unable to return to work. While there generally aren’t specific rules about what you can and can’t do with your time off work, it is important to remember that you must observe medical restrictions on your own time as well as on the job.
Here, too, the most significant reason for observing those restrictions is to avoid re-injuring yourself or delaying your recovery. But, again, that’s not the only reason.
Avoid Jeopardizing Your Health & Benefits
Activities that are inconsistent with your medical restrictions may be used to fight your workers’ compensation claim.
For example, if you have a 10-pound lifting restriction that prevents you from returning to work, but you share photographs in social media showing you carrying around your 40-pound preschooler, those photographs could be used as evidence that your injury was less serious than you claimed.
Similarly, if you’re off work because you can’t be on your feet for extended periods, golfing or volunteering for a two-hour shift standing in front of a store collecting for charity can call your injuries into question.
Limitations after an injury can be frustrating, but protecting your health is of primary importance. Protecting your right to recover the compensation you need to bridge the gap is a close second.
Be sure to follow medical advice and observe all restrictions while you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Consult With a Cleveland Workers Compensation Attorney
If you’re in doubt about how a particular activity might impact your claim, talk to your workers’ compensation attorney before making a decision.
The information presented in this post is not legal advice and does not form a lawyer/client relationship. Laws and circumstances can differ and change.
Please contact us for a personal review of your situation