Returning to Work After an Injury

For some sick or injured workers who successfully heal after a workers’ compensation incident, the hardest part is finding a way to re-enter the workforce. Finding work despite ongoing physical limitations and restrictions can be tricky. This is especially true for workers with minimal education or skills that can be transferred to other jobs.

For a workers’ compensation victim, not just any job will do – the job must be “suitable,” usually meaning it must involve roughly the same level of responsibility, the same potential for raises and promotions, similar wages and benefits, and is in the same geographical area. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm regularly work with workers’ compensation employees to help smooth the transition back to the workforce by requesting the following programs for their clients:

  1. Vocational rehabilitation

After an accepted workers’ compensation incident in North Carolina, if the employer has no suitable job available for the injured or sick worker, then the insurer must either continue paying weekly disability benefits or must provide vocational rehabilitation. This service helps the worker find job openings, complete applications, prepare a resume, and attend job interviews. In addition to providing a certified vocational expert, the insurer also must pay associated costs, such as travel to job interviews if the worker lacks reliable transportation or is unable to drive. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm help their clients with vocational rehabilitation and make sure the insurer is paying for everything legally required.

  1.  Re-Training and Education

Sometimes, an injured worker cannot possibly return to a suitable job without learning some new skills or getting a degree. One common example is an uneducated worker, but one who is hard-working and highly-paid because he or she worked for the same employer for decades. If that worker cannot return to that same job, then it may be hard to find anything other than minimum-wage jobs or other non-suitable jobs. Another example is workers who cannot tolerate returning to the same field, either because of an occupational disease or a condition like post-traumatic stress disorder.

Re-training can involve classes at a technical college or university, on-the-job training, or certification programs. In many cases, an expert is required to establish the need for re-training, and the Ricci Law Firm regularly works with reputable experts to help their clients get the education they need to succeed.

  1. Trial Return to Work

In some cases, injured or sick workers opt to return to work as a trial, meaning that they want to give it a shot but are not sure they will be able to tolerate the job physically. Of course, it is hard to tell from a written job description exactly how much physical activity the job entails, so a trial return to work is often a savvy move. Sometimes workers do not discover until after starting the job that they must do more lifting, bending, stooping, climbing, or reaching than they anticipated. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm understand the complex laws about designating a return to work as a “trial” to help their clients avoid making a mistake that may cost them their disability check in the future.

Returning to work after an injury or disease is a serious decision. Contact a workers’ compensation attorney at Ricci Law Firm if you are considering returning to work.

Workers’ Compensation Lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh

I’m Brian Ricci, a workers’ compensation lawyer serving Greenville and Raleigh. If you or a loved one has sustained an injury at work, please call me at (252) 777-2222 or 800-387-6406 for free, friendly advice.

I am a longtime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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