workplace injury

Should I Be in a Hurry to Return to Work after an Injury?

After someone is injured in a workplace accident, employers and their insurers are usually eager for them to get back to work. The sooner an injured employee returns to work, the sooner they can stop paying workers’ compensation benefits. The employee may also be anxious to start working again so they can get a full paycheck and get back to a regular routine.

While it is understandable for a worker to want to get back on the job, it is important to do so with an abundance of caution. Coming back to work too soon is definitely not in the employee’s best interests. They need an adequate amount of time to recover from their injury, and if it is not fully healed, there is a chance that the injury will be aggravated, and their condition will become worse. In some extreme cases, they could even end up with a permanent injury that prevents them from going back to their job at all.

If something like this were to happen, it would not only be bad for your physical health, it could jeopardize your workers’ compensation benefits as well. When you go on workers’ comp, you have a duty to mitigate the effects of your injury. This is done by receiving necessary medical care, doing what your doctor tells you to do, and taking the time that is needed to get fully recovered or if applicable, reach maximum medical improvement.

Your boss might be putting subtle pressure on you to come back to work. You might be hearing comments like, “we really need you back” or “I sure hope the doctor gives you approval to come back to work soon.” Keep in mind, however, that you are the one who loses by going back to work before you are physically able to do so. If you get hurt again, you are the one who will pay the price, not them.

When Should I Return to Work after an Injury?

The simple answer is, you should only return to work after you have been medically cleared to do so and your doctor issues a “return to work” date. While you are out of work, you should be making regular visits to your doctor to receive updates on your progress.

During each visit, the doctor typically provides notations about your work status. At some point, the doctor might clear you to come back to work either “with restrictions” or “without restrictions.” If you are cleared to come back with restrictions, this means that you still have some physical limitations, and you might only be able to do certain jobs.

For example, you might not be ready yet to do tasks that require heavy lifting or standing on your feet for too long. If your work clearance has restrictions, be sure to follow them as directed by your doctor so you don’t re-aggravate your injury.

When you go in for your doctor visits, be sure to ask them about your disability and work status each time. It could happen that a doctor clears you to go back to work on paper, but they fail to tell you this verbally. In such cases, you might not realize that you have a “return to work” date, and if you do not come back to work on that date, you could be in trouble with your employer.

Could I Lose My Job if I Don’t Come Back to Work When My Employer Wants?

This is a bit of a tricky question. An employer is not allowed to fire an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, but in most cases, they are also not required to hold your job for you while you are out on workers’ comp leave. There are some exceptions to this, however, such as if you have an employment contract that guarantees your job, or if your injury qualifies you to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In any case, an employer will usually take an employee back after they are medically cleared as long as they have a position available for them.

Suffered a Workplace Injury in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Workers’ comp claims can be complicated and confusing, and there are a lot of difficult questions such as when you should return to work after an injury. For this reason, it is always best to work with a skilled and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. For experienced legal help with workplace accidents and injuries in Alabama, contact M. Adam Jones and Associates or assistance. Call our office today at 334-581-9238 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.

Premises liability

I was Hurt on Someone Else’s Property, what are my Options?

During a typical week, most of us spend a major portion of our time outside of our home. We go to work, go out shopping, go out to restaurants, spend time with friends, and occasionally go on vacations. Sometimes, accidents can happen when we are out on someone else’s property. Many times, these are just minor mishaps. Other times, however, they can result in moderate to severe injuries.

If you were hurt on the property of another party, you may have a right to compensation under the legal theory known as “premises liability”. There are a number of incidents that may be covered under this theory, such as:

  • Slip and fall accidents;
  • Animal attacks;
  • Elevator and escalator accidents;
  • Swimming pool accidents;
  • Fires and explosions;
  • Exposure to toxic substances;
  • Injuries that happen because of negligent security.

An owner or caretaker of the property may be liable for injuries sustained by visitors under certain circumstances. For a premises liability claim to be successful, however, the plaintiff must prove several elements, including:

  • The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care;
  • The defendant breached this duty;
  • This breach resulted in the plaintiff getting injured;
  • The plaintiff’s injury resulted in compensable losses.

The extent of the duty owed by a property owner or caretaker depends largely on what type of visitor you were when you were hurt on the property. There are three general categories of property visitors:

  • Invitees: These are visitors who have explicit or implied permission to be on the property, usually for the benefit of the owner or caretaker. Examples of invitees include customers of restaurants, grocery stores, and other retail establishments, hotel and resort guests, residential and commercial property tenants, and individuals who are walking through a public park. The highest duty of care is owed to invitees, and those in charge of the property are responsible to take reasonable steps to keep the premises free of hazards and to adequately warn visitors of any dangerous conditions that exist.
  • Licensees: A licensee is someone who also has explicit or implied permission to enter a property, but they generally do so for their own benefit. Examples of visitors in this category include social guests, neighbors, and delivery carriers. A slightly lower duty of care is owed to licensees; property owners are required to take reasonable steps to protect and adequately warn visitors of known hazards, but they are not necessarily required to inspect the property to discover unknown dangers.
  • Trespassers: A trespasser is someone who is not authorized to be on the property. As such, landowners have no legal obligation to protect trespassers from hazardous conditions, they must only refrain from willful and wanton conduct or entrapment that may cause them harm.

Pursuing a Premises Liability Claim in Alabama

If you were an invitee or licensee when you were hurt on someone else’s property, you may have a case against the owner, depending on the specific circumstances. However, establishing your visitor status and duty of care owed to you is only half the battle. If the injury occurred in Alabama, you must also overcome the state’s “contributory negligence” legal standard.

Under contributory negligence, a defendant can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% responsible for the underlying incident that caused the injury. You can be certain that the defendant will try to use this against you by claiming that the injury was at least partially your fault. Some possible defenses they may use include:

  • The condition was clearly marked (with a sign, cone, or similar);
  • The hazardous condition was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person;
  • You were not paying adequate attention to where you were going;
  • You were in an area that is restricted to visitors or they are not normally expected to be.

Given the uphill battle you are facing, it is important to take proactive steps to protect your legal right to compensation. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from various angles to show the hazard and how you got hurt, obtain statements and the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the event, get immediate medical attention to fully document your injuries and ensure that you are properly treated, and retain skilled legal counsel as early as possible in the process.

Injured on Someone Else’s Property? Speak with a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one was hurt on the property of another party in Alabama, call M. Adam Jones and Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will thoroughly review your case and advise you of your legal options. Call us today at 334-581-9238 or send us a message through our online contact form.