When you have had a workplace injury, it puts you out of commission. You may want to get back to your normal work life and start earning money again, but your body isn’t ready.
Long-term injuries may have you considered for retraining in another position or job type. This may be out of your control, and it is something you will need to consider to still get benefits from your injury claim.
There are no winners with a workplace injury. Both you and your employer suffer from this, and both want what’s in their best interest. Understand your rights when you can’t return to work and seek legal help to be fairly compensated for the entire time you are rehabilitating.
What happens if you can’t return to work after an injury? Let’s learn about the legal guidelines.
1. Report your work injury
Regardless of how minor you think an injury at work is, you should report it. You have no idea what may happen as your body processes the injury, and it may turn out to be something more severe than you thought.
Report your accident to your supervisor or safety officer as soon as possible. In some cases, you may not be able to tell them if you are knocked out or in severe pain. Once you can communicate with your employer, ensure that the incident is properly documented with as much detail as possible. The documentation will help you communicate with your personal injury lawyer, who can provide the relevant guidance.
2. Assess the injury
If you cannot finish the workday because of an accident, you should seek medical attention and then go home and rest. Your doctor will be able to assess how bad your injury is and if they deem you need to take time off, contact your employer and let them know.
Some companies have light-duty tasks that you may be able to perform, so it doesn’t interrupt your immediate income and their insurance premiums. Only do this if your doctor clears you. If your doctor feels that your condition may worsen by going to work, stay home until you get better.
On the other hand, even if you have been cleared to work, you may not feel that you can’t perform your duties. This may affect your compensation benefits, so you need legal advice on what steps to take next.
Not all recommendations from a doctor or claims adjuster are necessarily in your best interest but rather in favour of the company. They may not fully understand your duties at work, so communication is key here. Take time to fully advise your doctors about the scope of your work so they can make an informed decision about your potential return to work.
3. Understand the responsibilities
What happens if you can’t return to work after an injury? When there is a workplace accident, you and your employer have certain responsibilities.
After and injury, you should:
- See the first aid officer and get treatment
- Fill out an injury report
- See your doctor
- Stay in contact with your employer
- Keep records of everything
Your employers also have responsibilities:
- Document the accident
- Assess the safety of the worksite where the accident took place
- Resolve any unsafe work environment
- Be in contact with the workers’ compensation board
- Touch bases with you while you are off work
4. Income benefits
If your injury prevents you from going back to work, especially for more than a week, file a claim for worker’s compensation (WSIB in Ontario). This involves reporting the accident to WSIB and filling out detailed forms about the injury.
You are entitled to get fair compensation for your accident, but this is specifically wage loss that allows you time to recover and transition to a return-to-work plan while still receiving income.
Some claims may be rejected, and this is where you may need professional legal help to see what went wrong with your claim. Make sure you understand what “work injury” means. Even if you are not physically on-site but doing a work-related task for your employer, you are still eligible for compensation if you sustain an injury near the premises.
Long-term injury benefits will be reviewed every year, and after six years, the claim will be thoroughly examined and reviewed as they may make the benefits permanent.
5. Go to all prescribed rehabilitation
Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, you may need to go into a rehab program or be prescribed physical therapy. You must attend every scheduled session because it will help you recover and make sure you don’t lose eligibility for your ongoing compensation.
Your employer must reinstate you when you have recovered, provided it is within six months of the injury, and you have fully recovered. If they don’t comply or terminate your employment, they must show WSIB that your termination had nothing to do with your injury. It’s important to know your rights, and a qualified injury lawyer can help you with these and other issues.