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By Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C.

In Workers' Compensation

It should go without saying that when it comes to returning to work after being out with a workplace injury, your doctor is the best person to turn to for advice.

Sometimes an employer or its workers’ compensation insurer may put pressure on a worker to return to the job before an injury has fully recovered. It is important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your doctor and discuss all your concerns before jumping back into work full force.

An experienced Oregon workers’ compensation lawyer can help you protect your rights when an employer or insurer tries to force you back to work before you are medically able.

If You’ve Suffered a Work-Related Injury in Portland, When Is It Safe to Go Back to Work?

There is no easy answer to this question. It depends on the nature of the injury and how your body is healing. That is why it is so important to keep in honest and open contact with a trusted medical provider.

During each doctor’s visit, your physician will chart your progress, level of pain, range of motion, and any other pertinent information related to the specific nature of your injury and your recovery. Your physician’s evaluation is typically the basis for determining the extent of your abilities and the time frame in which you may safely return to your job.

Following the Doctor’s Advice

Follow all your doctor’s orders and advice. Take the medication as prescribed. Don’t try to take on too much at once. People often reinjure themselves when they overextend themselves before their doctor says they are ready.

Restrictions after Going Back to Work

Depending on your line of work, a doctor may also talk to you about the possibility of returning to the job with a modified work schedule that would include “light duty.”

This is a general term used to indicate that a person is still recovering and physically may not be able to complete all their previous duties without the risk of injuring themselves further. If this is the case, you want to make sure that you talk to your doctor and make sure their note very specifically outlines the tasks that you are or are NOT able to perform safely.

“Light-duty” can be a catch-all term and without specific guidelines. It can create confusion upon your return to work. “Light-duty” may mean different things in different industries and different positions. It is important to communicate to your doctor what you physically feel capable of doing.

Employer’s Return-to-Work Policies

If your doctor determines that it is time to fill the release form to return to work, you need to consult with your company’s workers’ compensation return to work policy.

A comprehensive return policy should include some type of confirmation that your employer understands your injury. It should also include information about any physical limitations you may have upon return.

You will also want to make sure that the plan provides reasonable accommodations if necessary for when you transition back to your position. That may include access to a ramp or elevator if you are still on crutches or in a wheelchair for example. Communication between you, your doctor, and your employer is important.

If you are feeling pressured, in pain, or uncomfortable about your return to work after a work-related injury, it is important to contact an attorney you trust. The Law Offices of Jodie Anne Phillips Polich, P.C. can help. Don’t risk further injury. Let us guide you through the process of returning to work safely, at the right time, and in the right way.

Jodie Anne Phillips Polich has been serving the needs of injured workers since 1993 and has developed a statewide reputation for the quality of her work.