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Should You Work While on Workers’ Compensation?

Colburn Law

Workers’ compensation is a vital safety net that protects employees who have suffered work-related injuries or illnesses. It provides financial assistance for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost income in the form of disability benefits. 

While receiving workers’ compensation benefits, many people wonder if they can return to work in some capacity without jeopardizing their claim. The answer depends on your doctor’s evaluation; as long as your duties won’t aggravate your injury, you can perform work without affecting your ability to recover compensation.

Always Follow Your Workers' Comp Doctor's Orders

Always Follow Your Workers’ Comp Doctor’s Orders

If you are injured at work, your first step is to seek medical attention from a workers’ compensation doctor. You can see any doctor for immediate care, but your follow-up appointments must be with a medical professional within the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) Medical Provider Network.

After your injury evaluation, your doctor will provide you with specific work restrictions based on the nature and extent of your injury. These restrictions could include limitations such as not lifting heavy objects, working only for a few hours per day, avoiding certain positions, or even being unable to work at all.

These restrictions are crucial for your recovery and for preventing further injury. Both you and your employer must respect and adhere to these restrictions. If your doctor states that you cannot work or limits your working hours, you can recover compensation for lost wages through temporary disability benefits.

Ask Your Employer about Accommodations

If your doctor says that you can return to work, you should speak to your employer about accommodations for your work restrictions. Your employer must honor these restrictions, but in some cases, they can prevent you from working your regular job.

For example, say that you need to lift heavy objects regularly as part of your job. However, your doctor’s restrictions prevent you from carrying these duties out. In these situations, your employer will need to find another job for you to perform while you recover.

If your employer cannot offer you another job or modify your work schedule, you cannot work until your doctor allows you to do so.

Do Not Perform Work Unless It’s Safe to Do So

As long as you honor your doctor’s work restrictions, working cannot harm your claim. The key is to heed medical advice and listen to your body. If you work multiple jobs, all of your workplaces should honor your restrictions, regardless of whether the injury occurred there.

If you feel like your doctor is pushing you to return to work prematurely, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. You are the one who truly understands the impact of your injury, and a lawyer can help you find a new physician.

Speak to an Attorney about Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation can be challenging, especially when contemplating the possibility of returning to work. In these situations, it is important to consult an attorney who has experience representing workers’ compensation cases. 

A Seattle personal injury lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process. He or she can review your claim, gather evidence, and guide you through the required steps to file a claim. Your attorney can also represent you during negotiations and the appeal process, if necessary.

As soon as possible following the accident, seek medical care. Then, seek the advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your next steps.