When You're Supposed to Return to Work But Your Workplace Injury Hasn't Healed

Getting injured at work can be traumatic. In many cases, you'll go get treatment from a doctor, maybe take a little time off, and your body will heal. But what if the allotted time has passed and you are not fully healed? Your employer wants you to return to work, but you're still hurting and you don't feel you're able to return to your job. Here's what you should do in such a scenario.

Follow your doctor's advice.

Hopefully, you have been following your doctor's recommendations throughout this whole process. But doing so is more important now than ever. As your work return date approaches and you're not feeling better, double-down on whatever treatment your doctor has been recommending. Take those pain relievers exactly as often as recommended. If you're supposed to be icing the injury, do so vigilantly—and so forth. Upping the aggressiveness of your treatment may not make the injury magically heal overnight, but it will demonstrate to your employer, doctors, and lawyers that you've been trying your best to heal and that the lack of healing is not due to your inaction. 

Tell the doctor how you are feeling.

The doctor can physically observe your healing process, but they can't actually know how you feel. If you're still in pain or otherwise worried that you're not ready to return to work, tell them so. They may end up extending your expected return date and recommending some additional treatments to help speed your healing process. Then, you should just show your employer the doctor's note saying you can't return until a certain date; legally, they have to respect this.

Consider a second opinion.

If the doctor who has been treating you insists that you're ready to return to work (maybe because they're employed by the company you work for), you can seek a second opinion from another workplace injury treatment service. If that second doctor agrees with you that you are not healed enough to return to work, then it's time to contact a lawyer. They can formally request that your company honor the second doctor's suggestion and keep you out of work for a longer period, giving you more of a chance to heal. If the company refuses, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them.

People heal at different rates. If you are supposed to return to work but you're not healed, don't hide this fact. Discuss it with your doctor and employer, and if you do not get the response you desire, contact a lawyer.