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Returning to Work After a Workplace Injury: Rights and Responsibilities

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment explains that “all businesses with employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance.” If you are hurt on the job, workers’ comp provides no-fault benefits. You may be required to miss time at work to recover from your accident.

Returning to the job after a period of receiving workers’ comp benefits can be challenging. Within this article, our Denver workers’ compensation attorney explains the key things to understand about your rights and your responsibilities regarding returning to work after an injury in Colorado.

Workplace Injury

Your Rights: Returning to Work After an Injury in Colorado

You Have the Right to Take the Time You Need to Recover From Your Injuries

All employees in Colorado deserve safe, fair conditions in their workplace. When accidents happen, they have the right to take the time to recover. You are not required to rush back to your job before you are physically and mentally ready to do so. It is essential that you follow your doctor’s advice and only return to work when you are medically cleared. Your employer does not have the unilateral right to make you return to work.

You Have the Right to Notify Your Employer of Physical Limitations (Job Restrictions)

As you recover from a work-related injury in Colorado, some tasks at work might not be safe or possible for you to perform. In such cases, you have the right to inform your employer about your physical limitations. These are referred to as job restrictions. You may be entitled to some form of light-duty work. As an example, if your injury prevents you from lifting heavy objects, your employer should be informed so that they can accommodate your needs.

You Have the Right to Return to Work Without Facing Retaliation

Injured workers should never be punished because it takes them some time to return to work. Along the same lines, injured workers should never be punished because they need a period of light-duty employment. In Colorado, the workers’ comp laws protect people against retaliation from their employers. Your employer cannot punish you—treat you in an unfavorable manner—simply because you were injured and took time off to recover. If you face any negative consequences upon your return, such as demotion, reduced hours, or unjust treatment, you may have a claim.

Your Responsibilities: Returning to Work After an Injury in Colorado

You Have a Responsibility to Communicate With Your Employer

Effective communication is crucial. You are responsible for keeping your employer informed about your injury, your recovery process, and your expected return date. Along with other things, this generally includes notifying them as soon as possible after the injury occurs and providing them with regular (reasonable) updates on your status. If there are any changes in your condition or if your return to work date shifts, it is important to communicate them promptly.

You Have a Responsibility to Return to Work When Physically Capable

The Colorado workers’ comp laws require that people who were hurt on the job must return to the workplace when they can do so. In other words, you have a responsibility to return to work when you’re medically cleared and physically able to do your job. You should follow your doctor’s advice and not extend your leave unnecessarily. If you are able to work in some capacity—even if it is not in your usual role—you may need to accept some form of light-duty work. A Colorado workers’ comp lawyer can help you deal with any disputes over your medical capacity to work.

You Have a Responsibility to Support Light-duty Duty Requests With Medical Records

If you are returning to work on light duty, it is your responsibility to provide your employer with the necessary medical records. These records should clearly state your physical limitations and the type of work you can safely perform. Providing this documentation ensures that your employer can effectively accommodate your needs and offer you appropriate tasks. Ultimately, medical records are the key to resolving any disputes.

Contact Our Denver Workplace Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

At The Law Offices of W. Dan Mahoney, P.C., our Denver workers’ compensation attorney is standing by, ready to protect your rights every step of the way. Call us now or contact us online for a free, no-strings-attached case evaluation. From our Denver law office, we represent injured workers throughout the region, including in Denver County, Adams County, and Douglas County.