returning to work after an injury

Can Returning to Work Too Soon Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim?

You’ve been hurt in a car accident, a fall, or another type of accident. Physically, you’re still healing and not quite ready to go back to work. But your bank account tells a different story. Too many personal injury victims are essentially forced back to work before they’re ready, simply because their bills need to be paid. This can actually weaken your personal injury claim, however, and make it harder to get the settlement you deserve.

Have you been hurt because of someone else’s negligence? We’re here to help. Call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-821-3892 to discuss your options today.

Returning to Work Before You’re Medically Cleared

When you suffer a personal injury, it is important to be under the care of a licensed, trustworthy doctor at all times. Their choices and care decisions will guide when you are able to resume normal life, return to work, and otherwise take care of yourself independently. It is absolutely crucial that you follow your doctor’s recommendations to avoid worsening your injuries.

That being said, some people do choose to go back to work before their doctor clears them to return. This is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons. First, it can completely invalidate your personal injury claim. If you’re well enough to go back to work, they might claim, how can you be asking for money for medical bills and lost income?

Furthermore, you could make your injuries worse by working before you are physically ready. This could leave you out of work for even longer once your injury catches up with you. At that point, your injury could become partially your responsibility. This means that you’ll have a much harder time getting the insurance company to pay for additional medical costs.

How Your Doctor’s Recommendations Affect Your Claim

You may wonder why it’s so important to avoid returning to work until you are medically cleared to do so. Before they pay out a settlement, the insurance company wants to know that your injury is legitimate and that you aren’t dragging it out to try to get more money. This often involves taking an in-depth look at your medical records to see how your treatment has progressed and how much you have adhered to your doctor’s recommendations.

If their records show that you haven’t listened to your doctor or followed their care instructions, that is a red flag to insurance companies. Perhaps you’ve missed multiple appointments, failed to schedule physical therapy despite multiple reminders, or engage in activities that are still too risky for your injury.

As you may have guessed, going back to work before it’s safe to do so is another red flag. If you do not follow your doctor’s orders and recommendations to the letter, the other party’s insurance company could use that to show that you aren’t taking your injury seriously. This makes it much harder for your personal injury lawyer to negotiate a fair settlement.

Therefore, you should follow your treatment plan. What does following your treatment plan mean? In general, it means doing exactly what your doctor says. You should attend all follow-up appointments. If you cannot make an appointment for any reason, make sure you call ahead of time and reschedule it, so you don’t have a no-call no-show on your medical record.

You should also seek all specialist care recommended by your doctor. This varies a lot from person to person. If you suffer a serious injury that impacts your mobility or your ability to perform your job duties, you may have to attend physical therapy or occupational therapy. This generally involves doing certain exercises or movements at home to build your strength. Be ready to follow your recommended at-home exercise schedule and document each session.

Protecting Your Personal Injury Claim

If your main goal is protecting your personal injury claim and getting a full settlement for your injury, it is crucial to listen to both your lawyer and your treating physician. Remember, the other party’s insurance company is not on your side during this. They are looking for any excuse they can use to decrease your settlement or reject your claim entirely. Don’t make their job easier by giving them reasons to dispute your claim.

We understand it can be stressful to be out of work for longer than expected, but if you are invested in your long-term health, you must wait until you have medical clearance. Choose an attorney you trust to fight for you and let them know your concerns. Providing all of the information they need puts your attorney in a better position to fight for a full and fair settlement on your behalf.

Find Out How We Can Help—Schedule a Consultation Now

The team at Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short is here to help you through this challenging time. If you have suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence, don’t just trust the insurance company to do the right thing. Turn to us for the skilled representation you deserve. Set up a consultation by calling us at 334-821-3892 or getting in touch online.

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