What to Do If You Were Re-injured After Returning to Work
If you were re-injured after returning to work, you should see a doctor and notify your employer of the injury. This is true even if you are already receiving workers’ comp and only returned to work on light duty or a modified basis. In most cases, the second injury is treated like a new claim for benefits and starts the process anew.
Many employers and their insurance companies are particularly resistant to believing workers when they file this second claim. Workers can help protect their rights by following the process of filing a claim and contacting a workers’ compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania who can fight for them. The lawyer can shield the worker against these practices and help them get the benefits they deserve.
For nearly 100 years, Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo has proudly and successfully served Pennsylvania by advocating for injured workers throughout the Keystone State. We have helped clients recover over $1.5 billion in compensation, with individual settlements of up to $3.5 million. Our Pennsylvania workers’ comp lawyers are award-winning leaders in this field, and one member of our team served as a Workers’ Compensation Judge for 15 years.
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What Should You Do if You Are Re-injured After Returning to Work?
Your health is your first priority if you experience a second injury after returning to work. Visit the doctor to identify and treat the condition to help prevent it from worsening. If the injury may interfere with your ability to do your job, inform your employer so they can take the necessary steps to start a claim. Pennsylvania law requires employers to report injuries to their insurance companies immediately after they hear about them from their employees. Further, they must file a First Report of Injury form with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within 48 hours if an injury results in death or within seven days if the injury causes a disability that lasts longer than a shift or day at work.
After you notify your employer of your injury, their workers’ compensation insurance provider will likely investigate the accident or your work-related condition. Within 21 days after you file the initial report with your employer, the insurance provider must decide whether to deny or grant the claim. It is important to understand your legal rights to compensation and your options during the process. A lawyer for workers’ compensation can help you by reviewing your claim, the applicable law, and notices you receive from the insurance company to determine if you are being treated fairly. They can help advocate for your right to receive workers’ compensation and help negotiate a settlement that works for your situation.
What Are the Risks of Returning to Work Too Soon After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
Experiencing a work injury is the start of a long and often precarious recovery process. Workers must make routine visits to the doctor, file a compensation claim, and handle their day-to-day obligations, all while trying to find time to rest and heal. The process of returning to work also presents unique challenges because the worker wants to get back into the swing of things but not push themselves. Many will not know how their body will react to being back on the job until it happens. Even if you are exceedingly careful, you risk being re-injured after returning to work.
When returning to work after an injury, it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations and ensure you, your doctor, and your employer are on the same page about your limits. The last thing you want to do is put yourself at risk by pushing yourself past your limits and worsening your injury or suffering a new one. Pennsylvania provides a Return-to-Work framework to help employers, workers, and doctors create a personalized plan to encourage safe practices and help limit the chance for the worker to suffer injuries.
Can You File Another Workers’ Compensation Claim if You Were Re-Injured After Returning to Work?
Workers who suffer an additional injury after returning can (and often should) file another workers’ compensation claim. The insurance company typically treats this injury as a second claim, even though a first claim is ongoing. Like before, you should seek medical attention and immediately notify your employer of the injury. Make sure to take detailed notes of what occurred.
Because of the circumstances, the insurance company may be especially resistant to accepting this claim. While Pennsylvania law generally does not allow fault to play a role in most workers’ compensation claims, the insurance company may still try to argue that the policy does not cover this second injury. For that reason, workers who suffer a second injury at work often benefit from having an attorney represent them during the claims process.
The attorney understands the tactics employers and insurance companies use to persuade workers to forego filing a claim. They can help by shielding you from these efforts and fighting for your legal interests. No worker should have to go without compensation because unscrupulous insurance companies or employers misled them.
Can You File for Workers’ Comp Twice?
Workers can file multiple claims for workers’ compensation if the injuries arise out of different incidents. If a worker breaks their wrist, recovers, and returns to work, they should file a second claim if they experience a new injury. But workers typically only file one claim if they suffer multiple injuries in a single workplace accident. For questions about your situation, consider contacting a workers’ compensation attorney in Pennsylvania to learn what would serve your best interests.
Important Injury Prevention Tips to Address the Dangers of Returning to Work After a Work Injury
Returning to work after a work injury is the goal for most employees who suffer a job-related accident. But taking care when doing so is critical to help minimize the disruptions to the healing process. Tips to help you stay on track while returning to work include following your doctor’s recommendations, listening to your body, keeping a pain journal, and talking to your employer. If your employer pressures you to take on more labor than you are physically ready or able to do, contact an attorney to help protect you from further injury.
Follow Your Doctor’s Recommended Recovery Steps
The first tip is to follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan during the recovery process. If your doctor says to rest, you should rest. Likewise, take all regularly prescribed medications and meaningfully participate in physical therapy or other programs to help you regain function. Before returning to work, talk to your doctor about any concerns you have and ask them for recommendations about light duty or modified work. Discuss these doctor-recommended restrictions with your doctor to help create a return-to-work plan that decreases your chance of re-injuring yourself.
Listen to Your Body
Another important tip is to listen to your body. If your body is persistently sore or in pain during work, tell your employer and ask to be put on light duty. If need be, you may benefit from taking the rest of the day off and healing. Listen to your body and heed what it is telling you. Many workers who are anxious to just get back to the way things were before the original injury end up pushing themselves too hard and worsening their injuries. If you can, slow down and only do what feels right under the circumstances.
Keep a Pain Journal
An additional tool to help you reduce the risk of an injury is to keep a pain journal. As you transition back to work after spending time in the recovery process, you may find that things are different than they were before. Your skills may need fine-tuning, and new aches and pains may have arisen. Keep a log of these at the end of every workday, and note what you did during that day to monitor the progression of your recovery. Further, writing this information down can help you identify possible triggers for pains and soreness and help you create a modified duty workload that helps your healing process.
Talk to Your Employer
Finally, be open and honest with your employer about how you are feeling. Tell your boss if you thought you could return to work, but it is causing you to relapse and experience pain. You can coordinate with them to modify your workload to reduce the risk of an injury. If your employer resists this, contact an attorney for assistance.
The Workers’ Comp Team at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo Can Help
Experiencing a re-injury after you return to work can be challenging, but you have options. You can pursue an additional workers’ compensation claim to help ensure you have the benefits you need to get back on your feet. Protecting your physical, mental, and financial health is vital to your longevity and well-being.
At Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo, we understand the vulnerability and frustration many workers experience when a work injury occurs. A second injury can be particularly hard for many to deal with because they feel disappointed that they cannot go back to how things were. But there is hope. Pursuing a workers’ comp claim helps protect their physical and financial health so they can support themselves and their families while they recover.
Our team uses a collaborative approach to maximize each client’s experience with our firm. Each client has a team of individuals, including an attorney, a client care manager, a medical coordinator, and a paralegal, assigned to their case. This team works together to handle the legal, financial, and medical aspects of the workers’ compensation case. We routinely update our clients so they feel supported and are not left in the dark.
If you suffered a second work injury and want help understanding your options, contact our firm today by calling 844-243-4843 or filling out an online contact form to schedule a consultation.