"I was working offshore when I was severely cut by a wire. I was immediately rushed to a hospital when we returned to shore, and I am receiving ongoing treatment for tendon damage that resulted from the accident. However, my employer wants me to return to work. What do I do?"
If you believe you are physically capable of returning to work, you can choose to do so. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to perform your required job duties, or if you are released by a physician to return to work before you feel you are ready, you should first discuss your case with an experienced maritime injury attorney. By returning to work prematurely, you risk aggravating your injuries and may endanger your ability to recover damages in future maritime litigation, including those for lost wages and reduced earning capacity.
Employers have to comply with the doctor's orders. However, they can be in violation of your worker's compensation claim or your Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA) by pressuring you to come back. Research has shown that many workers do not report the full extent of their injuries, perhaps out of fear of their employer or due to the threat of increased costs in medical insurance and bills.
If the claim is underreported, employers might sense that the employee is not as affected as they are led to believe, and may try to persuade them to return before they are fully healed. In some cases, an employer may go so far as to force you to visit your doctor to release you and claim you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). No matter what your case may be, it is outside the limits of ethical behavior for an employer to do this.
All too often employers, such as yours, put pressure on workers to return to work before they are able. You can choose to return to work before medical treatment is over, but that is likely not in your best interests. If you do not feel physically able to perform your duties but your doctor released you from care, you should talk to an offshore accident attorney. As we mentioned before, returning to work may also hurt your ability in an offshore injury claim to get the compensation you need. At Arnold & Itkin, we have helped countless injured maritime workers who are facing pressure from their employers to return to work. If you have further questions, contact us today.
Arnold & Itkin represented nearly a third of the crewmembers injured in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
Because maritime law is so complex and so complicated, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of how it works and who has proven themselves in similar cases before.