Visitor Question

Rushed to Return to Work After Forklift Accident

Submitted By: Gary (Port Jefferson Station, New York)

Hi, I was hit from behind and run over by a forklift driver at work yesterday. I sustained a broken left tibia and cuts and bruises. I filed for workers’ comp today. My wife submitted the workers’ comp form to my employer today. I do not have a claim number yet or adjuster information.

The orthopedic doctor says I will be off of work a minimum of 8 weeks. My boss called me today and mentioned to me that hopefully I can get to a point after a couple of weeks where I can just come sit in the office. My doctors says no.

I’m not sure what I should do. It seems like they are trying to rush me back to work.

Thanks for anything you can tell me.

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.

Answer

Dear Gary,

Thank you for your question. The short answer is that your employer can’t rush you back to work. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice.

Your Employer Can’t Demand Your Return to Work

Your doctor, and not your employer, is the person who determines when you can return to work after a workplace injury. Further, your doctor decides whether you can work on a restricted basis.

You’re also not required to fill a temporary role that exceeds the restrictions outlined by your physician. But, you do have to accept a position with work requirements that fit within these restrictions.

Here, your employer wants you to come back to work after a few weeks, but your doctor disapproves of it. Listen to your doctor and make sure your company knows of the doctor’s position.

If your physician later approves of some restricted work, then you must fill a temporary role that fits within these restrictions.

Reasonable Accommodations for Your Injury

If your injury arises to the level of a disability, then the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires your employer to provide you with reasonable accommodations if you return to work on a restricted basis.

A reasonable accommodation is basically a change or alteration to your position or work environment to help you perform the essential functions of your job.

For example, if the doctor says you can perform seated-only work while your leg heals, it is reasonable for your employer to have you come back to “sit in the office.”  You may be paid your regular wages during your time sitting in the office, or offered a reduced wage.

If your seated job pays less than your pre-injury wages, workers’ comp will cover a portion of the wage difference.

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits

TTD, or Temporary Total Disability, refers to an injury that renders a worker unable to return to work for a limited amount of time.

You’ve suffered this type of injury since you can’t return to work at all right now. When a worker has a TTD, then workers’ compensation laws say that they’re entitled to a portion of their weekly wages while off of work.

You’re typically allowed to receive 66 2/3 percent of your weekly wages.

Your wife recently submitted your workers’ comp form. You should hear back from your employer’s insurance company within about 14 days. Once you speak with them, make sure you verify that you’ll receive TTD benefits.

If you are allowed to return to work with restrictions, your injury may fall into the Temporary Partial Disability category.

New York’s Workers’ Compensation Board

The New York Worker’s Compensation Board is the agency responsible for helping NY employees with their worker’s comp claims. Their website full of helpful information on the claims process, how to file a workers’ comp claim, the benefits you may receive, and answers to frequently asked questions.

If your employer gives you a hard time about your return to work, we recommend you speak with a workers’ comp attorney.

Learn more here: Forklift Accidents at Work

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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