Workers who suffered a maritime injury must be extremely cautious when it comes to returning to work after an injury. Not only can returning to work too early worsen your injuries, it can also be used as evidence against you and give an employer leverage to deny your rightful compensation in a maritime injury claim. You should go back to work when you are fully healed, and only after you are certain that you can resume all work duties at full capacity.

Why Returning to Work Too Early Can Affect Injury Compensation

If your doctor has not cleared you or has placed restrictions on the amount of manual labor you can do, you should not return to work. By returning to work, you are essentially telling yourReturning to Work After a Maritime Injury employer that you are at full working and earning capacity. If you suffer aggravation of your injury (or suffer a new one), an employer can greatly devalue your claim since you returned to work in a “fully-healed” state.

The parties in your case may have differing opinions about your ability to go back to work, including:

  • Employers. It is not uncommon for employers to bully, threaten, or pressure workers to return to work before they have healed. If employers and their insurers are successful in getting you to come back, they can save thousands of dollars in future medical costs and lost income, as well as avoid paying you for your lost earning capacity. Depending on the methods an employer uses, pressuring you to come back to work can be an unethical or even illegal maneuver.
  • Medical providers. Employers are required to get a medical release from a physician before returning to work after an injury. Doctors supplied by employers are obviously biased to get you back to work as quickly as possible, even if you are not ready. Even if the doctor truly believes you are ready, doctors are still human beings and can make mistakes about the success of their own treatment.
  • You. Many workers are afraid to give their doctors the full list of their symptoms, fearing that they will be blacklisted from future maritime employment. Unfortunately, underreporting your injuries denies you the treatment you need and leads employers to believe you are able to work.

Maritime employers have teams of lawyers and insurance companies that all understand the limits of maritime law. If you have any doubts about your claim or your ability to work, you should speak with the experienced maritime injury lawyers at Hofmann & Schweitzer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 1-800-362-9329 to schedule your free consultation.


Paul T. Hofmann
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Focused on personal injury, with an emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims.