If you were recently involved in a workplace accident that led to an injury, then you’re probably asking yourself several questions. What should I expect from this process? How long will it take to complete? Can I return to work after a workers’ comp settlement?
They’re all valid questions. There are many things to ask yourself throughout this process. Can you return to work after settling? Is that the right move to take? What’s the recommended action for injured employees to take?
See below for several things that you should think through if you’re wanting to return to work after the workers’ comp case is settled.
Can I Return to Work After a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
The short answer is yes. Contrary to popular belief, the main premise of workers’ comp isn’t to “take it to the employer”. Quite the opposite, in fact. Workers’ comp is meant to remove the employer from the equation to mend the employer/employee relationship.
Priority number one is to help you recover from your injuries and cover all of the necessary medical expenses to do so. It’s the insurance providers that can be a thorn in your side. You and your workers’ compensation attorney will attempt to settle with the provider.
Still, there are many things to consider before you walk back in the door. Here are a few things to think through:
You and Your Employer’s Relationship– Even though workers’ comp protects the employer from covering all your medical expenses, some will still be salty about it raising their insurance premiums. Be sure to consider the relationship with your employer before returning to work. If it was already shaky at best, it might be better to look at other employment opportunities elsewhere.
Your Condition– Even with workers’ compensation, your injuries might be too life-altering to assume your previous condition. If so, then you might see if there’s a different position within the same company available. If not, then it might be worth taking a lump sum settlement to land a position you’ll be able to excel at moving forward.
Your Lawyer’s Advice– An experienced attorney has seen enough workers’ comp cases to know when it’s a bad idea to return to work with the same company. If your lawyer is advising you one way or the other, be sure to heavily consider their input. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. You should only be focused on you and your family’s future.
What if My Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Comp?
Know this: as long as a company has one ore more employees working for them, they are legally required to have workers’ compensation to protect their staff.
Them breaking the law is not your concern. Don’t try to cover up your injury to protect them. Doing so can lead to you suffering from life-altering disabilities, rather than getting the medical attention you need.
If your employer doesn’t have workers’ comp, then hire a workers’ compensation attorney and sue the company for compensation directly. In the meantime, you can also apply for pre-settlement funding and file a claim through Illinois’ Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund.
This handy fund collects all of the fines and penalties from previous uninsured employers and allocates them to injured workers in need. It can help you ensure that you receive the medical attention you need without sacrificing the future of your own financial situation.
Can I Still Reach a Settlement if I Go Back to Work?
Absolutely. Again, the point of workers’ compensation is to help you recover from your injury as fast as possible and get you back into the workforce. The second component of that is making sure you receive the finances you’re entitled to to cover your medical costs.
That said, if you recover and are ready to go back to work before a settlement is reached, you and your attorney will continue to negotiate with their insurance provider. The same goes for those of you that never missed any time from work even with the injury.
If you’re ever in doubt, be sure to consult with your lawyer. They can help you understand the best path to take for your particular situation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
You have 45 days to report the injury to your employer in writing. After that, you have 3 years to file a workers’ compensation, but generally, the two go hand in hand.
One thing you want to make sure of is not to file a workers’ comp claim without first reaching out to and hiring a workers’ compensation attorney. That way, they can give you step by step instructions for you to follow and maximize your compensation.
Once you’ve reported the injury, your employer (assuming they have workers’ comp coverage) will hand you the paperwork to fill out according to their provider’s requirements.
How Long Can a Workers’ Comp Case Take to Settle?
The answer depends on a case by case basis, and it will be dependent on the nature and extent of your medical care and injuries. That said, it can take anywhere between a couple of weeks or many years to resolve. That’s why the main focus is on getting you healed and back on the workforce as quickly as possible.
Don’t let the potential of a drawn-out settlement deter you from seeking compensation. You can apply for pre-settlement funding to cover the costs until you and your lawyer settle with the insurance provider.
You’re only required to pay back the pre-settlement loan if you win your settlement. If you lose, then you don’t have to pay back a penny.
Find the Right Workers’ Comp Attorney for Your Case
Now that you’ve seen an in-depth answer to your question of “can I return to work after a workers’ comp settlement?”, it’s time to put this knowledge to good use.
Be sure to read this article to see whether or not you could be laid off while you’re on workers’ compensation.
For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.