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What are my rights to rehabilitation after a workplace injury?

When a worker suffers an injury on the job, he or she usually files a workers' compensation claim. This allows the employee to receive appropriate medical care and possibly some other compensation for lost income or permanent injury. After treatment is completed, the employee can return to work.

However, many injuries require a longer amount of recovery time on the part of the worker. This is the point where things often turn contentious with the employer or insurance provider. In some cases, the employer may balk at providing ongoing rehabilitation or allowing an injured worker the time off from work that they need to fully recover.

This is not only unfair to the injured worker, it is short-sighted on the part of the employer. An employee who returns to work before fully healing presents some serious threats to their employer. Not only may the poorly- recovered worker have much greater difficulty performing the job to the same level of quality as before the accident, he or she may re-injure themselves and incur further medical costs and other expenses.

In many cases where an injured worker is under pressure to return to work early or forego necessary rehabilitation, the insurer is trying to protect its own bottom line by minimizing the payouts it makes for the worker's medical treatment.

You deserve a full recovery

While recovering from injury, you have a good opportunity to use this time to reflect on your career path. In many cases, workplace injuries prevent workers from returning to the same position that they held when the accident occurred.

Depending on the nature of your injury, your employer may have an obligation to provide you with vocational rehabilitation if you cannot properly return to your previous position. The specifics of what this might mean vary depending on the injury, the position you held prior to your injury and the state where you work. You may find that you're entitled to retraining for different positions or a different career path altogether.

Vocational rehabilitation opportunities may include

  • Assistance assessing job alternatives
  • Help searching for other positions
  • Resume-building assistance
  • Specific training courses

Depending on the laws in your particular state or even county, an employer may bear more or less responsibility to provide vocational training.

If you believe that you may deserve vocational rehabilitation in some form or another, you may reach out to professionals who can help you assess your claim and identify all of your options and available benefits.

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