What to Do When Your Doctor Releases You to Work But You Are Not Ready
Sustaining a work-related injury that renders you unable to work can be frustrating and stressful, as even though workers' compensation benefits cover lost wages, benefits only cover two-thirds of a person's lost wages, with a cap of $575 per week. For most people—especially those who earn significantly more than $575 per week—such a recovery is not nearly sufficient enough to cover the cost of living. For this reason, most workers, when they get the go-ahead to return to work, are thrilled. Others, however, feel as if the assigned doctor made the decision too prematurely.
If your doctor cleared your return to work despite your protests that you are not 100 percent better, the best thing you can do for your case is to comply with doctor's orders and contact an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer. If you are truly not ready to return to work, our team at Christopher Simon Attorney At Law can help you explore your options and determine the next steps you need to take to a more comfortable recovery.
Why Your Doctor May Have Released You to Return to Work
Understanding your doctor's motivations behind his or her decision to release you to return to work is key to determining the next steps. More often than not, a workers' compensation doctor will not make a decision based solely on the best interests of the patient, which is why it is generally not worth it to argue a final determination. Two such reasons for releasing patients before they are ready are as follows:
The doctor wants to ease you back into work. In many cases, a workers' compensation doctor has a standing agreement with the adjuster and employer stating that he or she will not keep an injured worker from working so long as the employer can find something for the injured party to do. In your case, the doctor may have released you for the sake of easing you back into the work environment.
The doctor believes that you need to stay active. It is not uncommon for doctors to place a huge emphasis on continued activity and exercise as a healing power. If your doctor feels as if you are worse off sitting at home than behind a desk or performing light labor, he or she may release you to work.
If your doctor cites either of the two aforementioned reasons for making the decision he or she did, you are unlikely to win an appeal. However, every so often a doctor makes a determination not fully understanding what a person's job entails. For instance, you may hold the title of "administrative assistant," but your job description includes heavy lifting and other physical activities. Your doctor may release you to work based off his or her preconceived notion of what an administrative assistant does without fully taking the time to understand your job duties.
Another plausible scenario is that your doctor DID take the time to fully understand your job duties, but he or she made the mistake of reviewing an edited job description given to him or her by your Rehabilitation Professional. The RP may have provided details regarding your main responsibilities but failed to mention additional duties to be completed during "down time," such as maintaining the premises, lending a helping hand in shipping and receiving, etc.
In either of the latter two scenarios, communication with your doctor is key. Explain what your job really entails and allow him or her to make a determination based on the new information. If he or she still releases you for work, and if you still believe the determination is a mistake, contact an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer to discuss additional options and possible remedies.