Why Returning to Work Too Quickly Could Hurt Your Louisiana Personal Injury Claim

Man working with a broken arm. One of the most pressing questions on the mind of an injury victim is: when can I go back to work?

For many people, not working for even a few days is financially devastating. That is why they are anxious to get back on the job as soon as possible.

You need to be careful, though, because going back to work too soon could hurt your Louisiana personal injury claim. You could also reinjure yourself, prolonging your recovery and increasing the risk of long-term consequences.

Below, Galloway Jefcoat discusses the issue of returning to work after suffering a personal injury caused by another’s negligence. If you have legal questions after an injury, contact us for assistance.

Call to schedule a free consultation: (337) 984-8020.

When Should You Go Back to Work?

You should not go back to work until your doctor clears you to return. Even if you think you will be OK and you can work through the pain and discomfort you feel, you should defer to your doctor’s judgment.

Think about it this way: there must be a good reason why your doctor is waiting to give you the OK to go back to work. Your injury claim is not going to affect your doctor one way or another. Your doctor is not being paid by the insurance company.

Doctors go through years of training, and they have significant experience treating health issues that fall within their medical specialty. They know how long it usually takes for an injury to heal.

Doctors can also adjust their recommendations based on the symptoms you report to them. That is why you need to be honest with them about how you are feeling and how well the treatment is working. If you conceal your symptoms or say you are feeling much better than you are, your doctor may clear you to go back to work too soon, which could end up prolonging your recovery time.

Checklist for Getting Back on the Job

If you have questions about when you should return to work, you should talk to your doctor first. If you have questions about returning to work in the context of your injury claim, you should talk to an experienced Lafayette personal injury lawyer.

That said, we have a checklist for your return to work after an injury. These are things that you should do, or things you may need to do, in the process of getting back on the job:

  • Obtain medical clearance to go back to work
  • Make sure you are clear on any work restrictions your doctor has imposed, and that you have clear documentation about these restrictions
  • Make sure your employer has been informed about your work restrictions
  • Take note of any worsening symptoms; you may need additional time off if your injuries are not healing as they should
  • Talk to your attorney if you have questions or concerns
  • Make sure to follow your work restrictions; do not push yourself too hard

Dangers of Going Back to Work Too Fast

There are a variety of problems with going back to work too quickly. The first is that you could reinjure yourself. Your injury may be in a fragile state and too much physical activity could cause you to lose much of the progress you have made in your recovery.

You could also suffer additional injuries. For example, you may need to compensate for limited mobility in a particular part of your body, like your back, shoulder or a leg. This puts unusual strain on other body parts, which could cause them to get injured.

Another factor injured victims may not consider is that they have been out of work, and they are not used to working all day. You may have no problem doing a couple hours of work with your injury. However, your injury could be a lot tougher to deal with after four or five hours.

Sometimes failing to follow the doctor’s recommendations results in permanent damage, as your injury is never able to heal properly. You could also cause your recovery to take a lot longer than it should. If you had waited like the doctor told you, it probably would have taken less time to reach maximum medical improvement.

How You Might Hurt Your Claim For Compensation

Once you return to work, the insurance company is probably going to say your injuries have healed. They may say they should not need to provide additional compensation for medical treatment. Their rationale is that your injuries cannot be that big a deal anymore because you are physically able to work.

If the insurance company finds out you defied the recommendation of your doctor by returning to work, they are going to question if you were ever really injured.

If you aggravate your injury or cause additional injuries, the insurance company may question your credibility. They may say your injuries are not as bad as you are claiming, and you are trying to fraudulently inflate the value of your claim.

It is vital to protect your credibility throughout the legal process. You need to go to the doctor right after the accident. You need to follow the doctor’s advice on limiting physical activity and the hours you can work. If you skip follow-up appointments or disregard the doctor’s advice, it becomes harder to argue your injuries are severe and you deserve significant compensation.

Returning to Work After a Workplace Injury

If you were injured in the workplace and have filed a workers’ compensation claim, you should not return to work before you are cleared by doctors. Unlike a personal injury claim, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits while you are not working.

Returning to work too quickly could make it harder to recover full compensation in your workers’ comp claim. You would be hurting your credibility – the workers’ comp insurance may argue you were never as injured as you claimed to be.

How Can I Pay for My Treatment if I am Not Working?

In a workers’ comp claim, you do not need to worry about paying for treatment. The workers’ comp insurance pays for your medical treatment.

However, in a personal injury claim, you do not receive compensation until the conclusion of the legal process. You need to pay your medical bills up front. If you cannot pay your bills, you should contact your lawyer and ask about other options. For example, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with your medical providers to withhold collection efforts until the conclusion of your claim.

Why You Should Return to Work Once Doctors Clear You

Not returning to work when you have been cleared to return is a bad idea. The insurance company is going to think you are just trying to inflate the value of your claim and recover more lost wages.

If you are not sure about returning to work yet you should talk to your doctor. Maybe you have not communicated your symptoms well enough. Your doctor may change his or her recommendations based on additional feedback from you.

You also have the option to seek a second opinion from another doctor. Another doctor may view things differently.

You could also ask your employer about working fewer hours or take on less strenuous work for a certain period.

Have Questions About Protecting Your Claim? Call For Assistance

One of the most important things you can do after suffering an injury is contact an experienced attorney. Not only can an attorney handle all the details of the legal process for you, but he or she can also answer your questions and explain how you can protect your claim.

There are no upfront fees for our services. That means we are not paid unless you are compensated through a settlement or courtroom decision.

Hundreds of millions recovered. Contact Galloway Jefcoat: (337) 984-8020.