Dangers of Returning to Work Too Quickly After a Personal Injury: What You Should Know

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Personal Injury Published on May 22, 2024 and updated on June 12, 2024.

worker with back painReturning to work too quickly after a personal injury can have serious consequences. Not only could you make your injuries worse and jeopardize your ability to make a full recovery, but you could also hurt your ability to secure full compensation.

In this blog, our Maryland personal injury lawyers explain the dangers of returning to work too soon, the potential impact on personal injury claims and guidelines for determining when it is safe to go back to your job.

Did you suffer a personal injury due to the negligent actions of another individual? The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl has been dedicated to representing personal injury victims for more than 30 years. Contact our firm today to review legal options. Your initial consultation is free, and we do not charge any fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Call 410-297-0271 to find out if you may have a case.

How You Could Aggravate Your Injuries by Going Back to Work Too Soon

Returning to work too soon deprives your body of the time it needs to properly heal. This can not only lengthen your recovery but also reaggravate your injury.

For instance, if you renovate homes for a living and you suffered a shoulder injury, getting back on the job too quickly could prevent soft tissues from healing as quickly as they otherwise would.

Climbing a ladder requires you to use muscles and joints throughout the body, including your arms, legs, back and shoulders. The physical strain of climbing could cause a lot of pain and discomfort that impairs the healing process. You may even hurt your chances of ever making a full recovery if that is even possible.

Climbing a ladder also involves repetitive motion that may put additional stress on your shoulder and the surrounding muscles, leading to inflammation.

Even sitting at a desk in front of a computer can be bad for the healing process, such as if you suffered a back or leg injury and you do not have an ergonomically designed office chair.

Another factor to consider is exhaustion. You have been out of work for at least a few days and your body is probably not going to be used to working an eight-hour shift. You may also need to compensate for your injury by overusing other muscles, which could cause additional injuries.

Many injured victims think they can just push through their pain and discomfort, but this can be dangerous.

Why Some Injured Victims Return to Work Too Fast

There are a few common reasons injured victims return to work too quickly:

Financial Strain

For many people, missing one paycheck or getting one paycheck that is worth less than normal can be disastrous. They may struggle to take care of essential expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries and medical bills.

An injured victim may have limited access to disability benefits or workers’ compensation, and therefore, have no reliable source to replace his or her income.

Injured victims may want to stay home and allow their injuries to properly heal, but they feel compelled to return to work sooner than advised because of their financial issues.

Fear of Losing Your Job

In some workplace cultures, there may be an expectation or implied pressure for employees to prioritize work over their personal health or well-being. This cultural norm can compel injured workers to return to work too soon to avoid being perceived as unreliable or uncommitted.

An employer might pressure its injured employee to return to work sooner to minimize disruptions to business operations or to avoid hiring temporary staff or paying current employees overtime.

Concerns about their job security and career advancement could also influence personal injury victims to return to work too soon. They may fear losing their job or facing demotion if they are unable to fulfill their work duties for an extended period.

Social Isolation

Being at home for an extended period due to injury can make personal injury victims feel socially isolated and lonely. They might miss interacting with coworkers, friends and acquaintances in a work environment and feel prompted to return to the workplace.

Work often provides structure and routine. Without it, personal injury victims may feel sort of like a fish out of water, unsure of how to spend their time during the day. Returning to work offers a sense of purpose and normalcy, allowing an injury victim to regain a sense of control and direction in his or her life.

The sense of productivity and accomplishment may be lacking during an injury victim’s recovery at home, potentially leading to frustration or dissatisfaction. Returning to work allows an injury victim to participate in activities that might restore a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

How You Could Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim

Returning to work prematurely may undermine your personal injury claim. It may send a message to insurers that your injuries are less severe than you reported or that you have already healed when, in fact, you have not.

When you return to work prematurely, you may feel the need to downplay your limitations to convince your employer that you are reliable. These statements could later be used against you, hurting your claim for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Returning to work too soon could also contradict the medical recommendations by your doctor or exacerbate your injuries, making it more challenging to obtain medical evidence that supports your claim. Injured victims have a legal obligation to mitigate their damages, which means take reasonable steps to help their injuries heal.

Insurance companies could use your early return to work as a reason to underpay or even deny your claim.

You should focus on prioritizing following the medical recommendations made by your doctor. That way you show your commitment to recovering and demonstrate the seriousness of your injuries.

When Should I Return to Work?

The decision to return to work should be based on medical guidance from your doctor rather than external pressures, such as fears of financial hardship or employer intimidation. Only return to work when your doctor confirms it is safe to do so.

You should also prioritize your emotional healing during your physical recovery. Personal injury victims sometimes do not realize that their physical injuries can have lasting emotional effects. If you are still feeling the emotional scars after recovering from your physical injuries, seek support from a mental health professional.

What if You Are Not Ready To Go Back to Work?

If you feel uncomfortable about returning to work, even if you have been cleared by your doctor, get a second opinion. Obtaining a second opinion can also provide clarity and validation if you are uncertain about returning to work.

However, without a second opinion, choosing to not return to work when you are cleared will affect your claim. You are not going to be able to claim lost wages for the days you missed work after you were cleared to go back.

Not Sure if You Have a Personal Injury Case? Call the Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl to Discuss Your Injury

If you believe your injuries were someone else’s fault or if you are not sure, call our office to speak with a member of our personal injury legal team. Your initial consultation is free, and you are not obligated to hire our firm.

If we determine that you have a valid personal injury case and we represent you, there will be no upfront costs. We do not get paid unless you do.

Millions recovered. Schedule Your Free Consultation today: 410-297-0271.