Temporary Return to Work
Some workers are eager to get back on the job. If you collected workers' compensation benefits for a period of time and then tried to go back to work, you may need to leave work again due to a flare-up or a worsening of symptoms. A temporary return to work may present particular obstacles to recovering the benefits to which you may be entitled. At Pulgini & Norton, our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can help you pursue benefits if you have made a temporary return to work but find that you are still disabled.The Temporary Return to Work Rules
Under the workers' compensation law, once liability has been established, if you return to work for less than 28 calendar days and must leave again because of your injury, the insurer is supposed to simply resume payments. However, you must report that you are again disabled and unable to work within 21 calendar days of going back to work. The insurer will need to resume payments within 14 calendar days of receiving this notice.
Just because you receive payments does not mean that liability has been established. You should not assume that the insurer accepted liability because you started receiving benefits right away after reporting your injury or illness. The benefit checks may start within 3-4 weeks of the injury, but there is a pay without prejudice period for the first 180 days after the injury. This means that during this period, the worker may receive benefits, but the payments do not imply liability, and the amount of compensation may change. During this period, the insurer may stop or reduce benefits. An insurer must ask you if it wants to extend the pay without prejudice period. You should not agree to this extension without consulting an attorney. However, if you have already agreed to this extension, you may still be in a pay without prejudice period.
If you return to work temporarily during the pay without prejudice period, different rules apply to you if you stop working again because of your disability. If liability has not been established or accepted, the insurer is not required to reinstate your benefits simply because your disability flares up again. Instead, you will need to file a Form 110, known as an employee claim form.
In some cases, an employee goes back to work after receiving workers' compensation benefits but must still undergo treatment. This is not treated as a temporary return to work. The employee may need to take time off work but is considered to be on the job. The insurer and the employer are not required to pay you for time that you take off for medical visits, and the employer only needs to give you time off work if the treatment cannot be scheduled outside normal work hours. You will only be compensated for the time that you took off if you are going to an IME at the request of the insurer, and the appointment conflicts with your scheduled work hours.Protect Your Rights by Enlisting a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Boston
If you suffer a job-related injury and try a temporary return to work in Massachusetts, you may encounter some difficulties in connection with your workers' compensation claim. Although the system was designed to make it easier for an injured worker to recover compensation than the civil judicial system is, it is often challenging to deal with insurers. Representation by an experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyer may make a difference. At Pulgini & Norton, we also provide skilled representation to claimants in Medford, New Bedford, and Waltham, among other communities. Contact Pulgini & Norton by calling 781-843-2200 or filling out our online form to set up an appointment with a workplace accident attorney.