Are You Required to Return to Work if You Haven’t Fully Recovered?
What to do if your workers’ compensation doctor released you to full duty but you have not fully recovered? Does Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law require workers to return to work before they are ready?
Often, an injured worker may feel that their doctor, who was chosen from a list of providers recommended by the employer’s insurer, is not on their side when releasing them to full duty.
When this happens, it is important to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately. A knowledgeable lawyer will advise you on legal options available in your particular situation.
Are Workers Required to Go to Their Employer’s Doctor in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law, workers who sustained a work-related injury or illness have an obligation to go to one of the doctors included in their employer’s list. According to the website of the Department of Labor & Industry, an injured worker has an obligation to treat with one of their doctors for 90 days from the date of the first visit.
However, under the state law, workers are required to go to one of the doctors from a list as long as all of the following requirements are met:
- a notice must be signed by the worker at the time of employment and at the time of injury;
- the list contains at least six providers (of those, three must be physicians);
- the list must contain each provider’s name, specialty, address, and telephone number;
- the employer is not allowed to direct their employees to any specific provider on the list;
- if you need a specialist who is not on the list, you may be allowed to treat with a doctor of your choosing;
- you are allowed to switch from one designated provider on the list to another provider on the list; and
- all providers on the list must be geographically accessible.
Can Your Employer Force You to Return to Work if You Haven’t Fully Recovered?
Our Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyers at Ira H. Weinstock, P.C., often receive calls from injured workers who complain that their employer is forcing them to return to work even when they have not fully recovered.
As part of the workers’ compensation process, the claimant will undergo an Independent Medical Examination, also known as IME. During the examination, an injured worker is examined by a physician selected by their employer’s insurance company.
If the doctor allows you to return to work when you have not fully recovered, you have two options if you disagree with their decision:
- Seek a second opinion. If a doctor of your choosing says that you should wait until you have fully recovered to go back to work, you can refuse to return to work.
- Refuse to return to work. If your own doctor agrees that you can go back to work, but you refuse to comply, you will most likely lose your workers’ compensation benefits.
It is advised to speak with a Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyer if your employer or their doctor says that you can return to work when you have not fully recovered. Schedule a consultation with our attorneys at Ira H. Weinstock, P.C., to discuss your options. Call at 717-238-1657.