What Injured Construction Workers Need to Know Before Going Back to Work

Worker With a Back Brace Holding Sides in Pain Hofmann & SchweitzerMost construction workers are eager to heal from their injuries and get back on the job. Maybe their employers are pressuring them to get back as soon as possible, maybe they want to be able to earn money to offset their out-of-pocket costs—or maybe they simply want to put their injuries behind them. If you are considering returning to work after an injury on a construction site, it is vital that you take the necessary steps to protect your health and your rights as an injury victim before showing back up at work.

What to Consider Before Returning to Work After a Construction Injury

The most important thing to remember is that you should never go back to work before you have been medically cleared to do so. Returning to work too early is a major cause of re-injury, and can cause you to aggravate your current condition or even suffer a secondary accident that prevents you from ever making a full recovery. If you are not fully healed and physically ready to handle the demands of your job, don’t attempt to go back to work.

It is also a good idea to stay in contact with your employer while you are out of work due to an on-the-job injury. Although your employer may not be required by law to keep your job open for you, many may welcome injured workers back or rehire employees after they are physically able to cope with the demands of the job.

There are many ways injured construction workers can ease back into full-time employment, including:

Light duty.

Your employer may agree to an incremental return to work, such as working for only a few hours each week or only performing certain tasks. This will give your injuries extra time to heal, and allow your body to acclimate more slowly to a regular workload. You will still need medical clearance to return to work on light duty after a work injury, but you may qualify for reduced-earnings benefits through workers’ compensation if your post-injury pay is less than your former wages.

Accommodations.

If your injury has resulted in a partial disability, your employer may be expected to give you reasonable work accommodations or offer you a different position within the company. You will have to provide proof of your medical and vocational restrictions to your employer, and your employer should review this documentation to make sure the tasks you will be performing do not exceed these restrictions.

Disability benefits.

Employees who are collecting worker’s compensation disability payments may be able to continue receiving these benefits even after they return to work. However, you will have to stay within certain earnings limits to ensure that your disability wage benefits are not discontinued.

What to Remember as You Return to Work on a Construction Site

You should also remember that your work injury case is not necessarily over once you return to work. Once you have reached your maximum medical improvement, your doctor may issue medical clearance for you to return to work, along with any work restrictions or disability rating for you to continue receiving benefits.

Since you could still potentially have a work injury claim, it is vital that you:

Document anything that could affect a potential injury case.

If your employer takes any action against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, working on a light-duty basis, or otherwise punishing you after an injury, you should record the date and details of the incident and ensure you have a copy to show your work injury attorney.

Follow the work restrictions set forth by your doctor.

If your employer or supervisor requests that you perform duties that are forbidden by your doctor, politely decline and show them your list of restrictions. If these requests continue, or if supervisors begin to harass or threaten you into doing more than you are able, contact your attorney.

Do not hesitate to seek treatment if you aggravate your injury.

If you suffer complications due to an aggravation of your condition after returning to work, you may be able to receive temporary workers’ compensation benefits without filing a new claim. If any action causes you pain or makes your injury worse, report the incident to your employer and seek guidance from your attorney.

Have You Been Injured While Working On A Construction Site?

If you've been hurt while working at your construction job you need to speak with an experienced construction accident attorney as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our New York City law office directly at 212.465.8840 to schedule your free consultation.

You can also request our FREE brochure, Hurt in a Construction Accident? You’re Not Alone.

 

Timothy F. Schweitzer
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Personal injury lawyer specializing in maritime, construction and railroad injury claims.