Visitor Question

Can I return to work after an injury without being cleared by a doctor?

Submitted By: A (California)

I cut myself at work and had to get stitches.

It is a holiday weekend and I would like to get back to work (I am a server in a restaurant) but I can’t see a doctor until after the holiday.

I feel I can do my job.

What would happen if I returned without clearance from a doctor? Are there any laws prohibiting me from returning to work without first seeing a doctor? Thanks for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear A,

Your first consideration is the severity of your injury, and the probability that returning to work before seeing a physician may reinjure or aggravate the injury.

Doing so may disqualify you from compensation for the damages you might sustain above and beyond those from the initial injury.

That might result in your having to pay out of your own pocket for additional medical treatment. In workers’ compensation claims, damages can include reimbursement or direct compensation for medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses for medications, costs of travel to and from your treating physician’s office, etc., and abut two thirds of your lost wages.

There is no law we could find in California which would directly prohibit you for returning to work before being cleared by your treating physician.

The problem is, your employer may not permit you to return to work before being cleared. That’s your employer’s right. The reasons might include exacerbation of the initial injury, or the possibility of transferring blood or infection from your wound to restaurant patrons.

Learn more here: Returning to Work After Injury

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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