This is Part 4 of a multi-part series on what to do if you’ve been injured at work.
Part 4 – Returning to Gainful Employment
So far in this step-by-step guide on what to do after you’ve been injured at work, we have gone over the recordkeeping you should do immediately following your accident, how to seek medical treatment, how to seek legal aid, and the ways in which you should reach out to bosses and coworkers. By this point, you have obtained a number of important personal and employment documents, sought out healthcare providers, and decided whether or not to hire a lawyer.
In Part 4, we will discuss the question of returning to work – when, how, and whether to do so.
Choosing Whether to Return to Work
There is no one-size-fits-all rule for returning to work. Everyone’s situation is different. The nature, extent, and permanency of your injuries will guide your decision.
The first question to ask yourself is whether you are able to return to work for which you have prior training or experience. The second question is whether returning to your old occupation will make your injuries worse. If the state of your health does not prevent you from working, in many cases it is a good idea to go back to work.
If you are unable to work or if returning to work will worsen your injury, you should explore vocational rehabilitation.
Once you have legally established that you are unable to perform suitable work for which you have previous training or experience, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act. Vocational rehabilitation is a form of benefits for injured workers that is designed to help you to return to suitable employment while taking into consideration your injuries, restrictions, skills and education. Vocational rehabilitation is paid for by your employer or its insurance company and the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court. A vocational rehabilitation counselor will assist you in exploring the following options:
•1. Return to previous job with same employer;
•2. Modification of previous job with same employer;
•3. New job with same employer;
•4. New job with new employer;
•5. Formal retraining – ranges from six months to four years, but typically involves a two-year associates degree.
•· No formal retraining will be approved by the Compensation Court unless all lower priorities have been determined to be unlikely to result in suitable job placement or return to work.
Serious Injury and Permanent Impairment
If you have reached maximum medical improvement but your work-related injuries pose permanent impairments, you are likely entitled to long-term benefits for these permanent injuries. This will be the topic of our next blog post.
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