After an injury at work, many employers and insurance companies employ aggressive tactics to get people back to work. In many cases, employers require that your initial treatment be at one of their designated occupational health facilities. Under the law, your employer can do this. In many cases, these facilities will determine that you are capable of returning to work and give you a return to work slip, even if you don’t feel like you can.
You should understand that the law allows for you to treat with any doctor of your choosing after a work injury, so long as the doctor is licensed to treat injured workers in the state. If you are injured outside of the state, you can treat with any doctor. If your employer’s occupational health facility returns you to work after an injury, but you don’t feel like you can properly work, there are steps you should take to protect your health.
If possible, contact your employer and advise them of what the occupational health doctor found. Advise them that you do not feel capable of safely returning to work and that you will advise them after seeing your doctor. If your doctor feels that you are totally disabled, you should immediately provide your doctor’s note to your employer.
Other times, employers or their insurance companies will send you a letter directing you to return to work after an IME (Independent Medical Exam) where the insurance doctor says you can work. This may be against your own doctor’s opinion. Be advised that you have no obligation to take the insurance doctor’s advice over your own doctor. You should always rely on your own doctor’s direction not the insurance doctor’s. If you receive a notice to return to work when your doctor has told you that you can’t work, you should immediately contact your lawyer so that he may respond. Insurance companies will try to use your refusal to return to work as a basis to suspend your cash benefits. However, the right attorney can assist you when this occurs.
We encourage you to contact Gielowski, Federice & Caligiuri, LLP with questions about this, or any other issue you are having with your claim.