A work injury is a major inconvenience for the affected employees, the people on their team and the company that employs them. Often, a serious work injury means that someone will need a leave of absence from their job, as well as medical treatment.

Thankfully, workers’ compensation insurance can pay for a Pennsylvania employee’s healthcare necessitated by a work injury and also provide them with disability benefits until they return to work. However, there may eventually be disagreement about when it is appropriate for them to get back to the job. Who has the final say in when a Pennsylvania employee returns to work after an injury?

The doctor decides when someone goes back to work

Both the employee and the company that they work for have incentives to manipulate the outcome of a return-to-work job injury case, which is why a physician’s expertise is so important. The state relies on the doctor overseeing someone’s treatment to determine what care they need and when they can get back to work.

They have the ability to create a return-to-work plan that might include accommodations so that the worker can fulfill their job responsibilities despite having injuries and certain medical limitations. They can also evaluate someone’s condition to establish when they have achieved maximum medical improvement, at which point they will be unlikely to show any other major reduction in symptoms despite undergoing additional treatment.

When a physician either believes the worker can perform their job safely with certain accommodations or when they believe the employee has achieved MMI for their condition, they will likely file paperwork to terminate their medical benefits and their disability pay as well. An impairment rating evaluation can help quantify any lingering symptoms or limitations.

Workers can challenge an unfavorable decision

If a physician doesn’t seem to have considered someone’s pain or other lingering symptoms, then it may be necessary to get a second opinion and explore additional treatment options. Workers who understand their rights while receiving benefits related to a job injury will have an easier time sticking up for themselves.

Learning about the rules that determine when someone qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits and how long they last will help that employee get the appropriate support for their job injuries.