Can I Be Forced to Go Back to Work after a Workplace Injury?

construction worker with leg injury after falling from ladder at job site
January 2, 2019
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

If you have been injured at work, and have been receiving workers’ compensation benefits, it can be a stressful time. The worker’s compensation process isn’t always easy to negotiate, and there are many rules and regulations to follow. One aspect that can be particularly difficult is when your employer and workers’ compensation doctors believe you are ready to return to work, and you don’t.

Perhaps you are still not feeling like you have fully recovered from your injury, that you need further physical therapy or additional treatment. This crossroads can be a point of contention with your employer, yet you don’t want to jeopardize your employment. What are your options if this happens to you?

If you haven’t already, one of the first things you should do is consult with a workers’ compensation attorney for advice. He or she will be able to assist you with your case and protect your rights.

What If I Don’t Agree with My Employer and Workers’ Comp about My Return to Work?

If you, your employer, and workers’ compensation doctors cannot agree on your return to work, you do have some options. Typically, the first thing that will happen is you will be asked to attend an Independent Medical Exam. The exam is performed by a doctor who is chosen by your employer’s insurance company.

Often, the results of the exam are predictable – they show that you are recovered and can return to work. Typically, the doctor will say that you are able to resume your regular work duties without restriction, and you will receive documentation that allows you to return to work.

You may not agree with this decision. Here’s what you can do if that is the case:

  1. If your employer says you can go back to work, and the company physician says the same, you have the option of seeking a second opinion. In this instance, you can see your own doctor, however, you will likely have to pay for the exam yourself. If your doctor believes that you should not return to work, then you can refuse to go back. Your employer may file a petition in disagreement, but you will continue to receive your benefits until a judge hears your case. If this happens to you, it’s important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you with your case.
  2. If your employer says you can go back to work, and your doctor agrees, but you refuse to go back to work, you will likely lose your workers’ compensation benefits. If this happens, you should enlist the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to negotiate your case.

In the above situations, not only is it important that you begin working with an attorney, but it’s also a good idea to try to maintain a good working relationship with the doctor who is treating you. When you go to your appointments, ask for documentation that details your doctor’s recommendations – even if it’s the same as previous appointments. This documentation will help your lawyer have all the information that is needed to proceed with your workers’ compensation case.

When Your Doctor Releases You On Light Duty

There may come a time during your recovery from your workplace injury when your doctor decides that you can return to work but on light duty. That means that you are physically able to perform some tasks, but perhaps not all of your current job duties, due to your continuing medical restrictions. If this happens, but your employer doesn’t have a light duty job available for you, you will continue to receive your workers’ compensation benefits.

If there is a light duty job available for you, your doctor will have to approve the job and expected duties. In the event that the pay for the light duty job is less than what you were earning before your injury, you may be eligible for partial benefits.

Once you do return to work, workers’ compensation will still pay for any ongoing medical expenses you have related to your injury. Additionally, your full benefits may be reinstated if:

  • You are laid off from your position
  • You are terminated without proper cause
  • Your doctor reevaluates and decides that you should be taken back off work

Don’t Go It Alone – Find a Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Help You

If you or a loved one has been injured in the workplace and are dealing with workers’ compensation, you don’t have to do it alone. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will give you peace of mind that your benefits and rights are being protected. Let workers’ compensation attorney, Rand Spear, help ease your burden and advocate for you.

Get A Free Consultation

Media Contact:

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Rand Spear

(T): 215-985-2424

Two Penn Center Plaza, Suite 200

1500 J.F.K. Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19102.


Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved. This article is not to be considered advise, only the execution of the contingency agreement with this law firm will constitute an attorney-client relationship. The contents of this article are for general information only. If you would like to pursue a claim, please contact an attorney immediately to discuss your specific facts and circumstances regarding your claim. Some cases accepted by this law firm may be referred to or worked on by other lawyers, depending on the area of practice and specifics of a particular case.