The workers’ comp process in Ohio can seem simple on paper. However, there’s often lots of red tape and uncertainty to deal with after you suffer a work-related injury or illness. Sometimes claims get denied unfairly or employees receive a lot less than they expect. Other times, they may be pressured to return to work before they’re ready. Our Ohio workers compensation lawyers can help you.
Every case is different and feeling comfortable about returning to work is very personal. However, it is best not to rush back to the office before you’ve recovered sufficiently. If you go back to work before you are ready, you probably won’t be able to perform at your best. Your employer may fire you as a result. This means you would be unwell, unemployed, and unable to benefit from temporary disability benefits. To avoid such a situation, you should not return to work unless:
- You’ve returned to full health
- You have the go-ahead from a doctor to return
- You discuss the idea of a trial period with your employer
- A doctor has outlined any limitations that apply to your return
- You’ve discussed any accommodation you may need with your employer
The Possibility of Transitional Work
You also need to know what your company’s policies state about returning to work after an on-the-job injury or occupational disease. These policies usually vary from employer to employer. However, they are still subject to the rights afforded to individuals under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Typically, Return to Work policies include a definition of transitional work and details of how it would be used to help the employee return to work. Businesses aren’t required to offer such an option, but most try to phase injured workers back into the workplace. Transitional plans allow injured employees to go back to work before they are fully recovered. However, they’re given a job or tasks that accommodate their physical restrictions. You will likely need a release from a physician permitting you to carry out transitional work. A Cleveland workers’ comp attorney can help you to ensure that you’re treated fairly.
Can I Get Fired While I’m Recovering?
It’s illegal for an employer to fire you just because you’re on workers’ comp. However, Ohio is an at-will state. This means that unless your contract states otherwise, you can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, as long as the reason doesn’t violate state or federal laws. This means that your employer just needs to come up with a legal reason for letting you go. They won’t admit that they’re firing you because you suffered a job-related injury or you applied for workers’ comp since such retaliation is illegal.
It’s possible that you could lose your job if you have a disability that prevents you from performing the job you once did. If you were a forklift driver but you lost the use of one of your hands, you won’t be able to carry out your duties. However, if you were a teacher, you may still be able to function if reasonable accommodations were made. Firing you could violate the Americans with Disabilities Act since such an act could be deemed discriminatory.
On a positive note, even if your employer lets you go because you got injured, you can still receive workers’ comp. If you were cleared to return to work with no restrictions, but you are no longer employed, your temporary total disability benefits would stop. However, you may still be able to get another type of compensation. If your doctor approved you for light duties or modified work and you no longer have a job, you may still be able to get wage loss benefits. However, you have to be actively searching for a job that you’re able to do. Regardless of the situation, seeking advice from an experienced lawyer can make a big difference.
Get Help from a Cleveland Workers’ Comp Lawyer
The workers’ comp process can be long and frustrating even though it’s supposed to be a simple way to get compensation. Sometimes workers get frustrated and just do whatever they’re told. You shouldn’t feel pressured to return to work if you aren’t ready. You shouldn’t be afraid that you’ll get fired or punished if you don’t resume your duties right away. If you want to protect your rights, you need to contact a workers’ compensation attorney in Cleveland. Let us help you to ensure that you’re being treated fairly. Call us today and let us start working on your behalf.