An unexpected injury in the workplace takes a toll on an employee’s physical, mental, and financial well-being. You were happy in your employment situation, and an unexpected accident has left you unable to work, or has made working at your current job difficult. How do you pay for your primary needs and how do you cope with the stress?
Know Your Rights
Most workers are protected under workers compensation laws that do vary from one state to another. These laws provide benefits that arrange wage replacement, cover medical treatments, and other benefits as necessary.
While receiving benefits through workers compensation, an employee is often placed on an accommodated leave to protect a disability. If you sustain an injury that would prevent you from working for 7 or more consecutive days, you will likely be placed on an approved leave of absence for the short or long-term disability. Job protection may be available if you meet the qualifications for the Family and Medical Leave Act.
If an employer will not give you your protected leave or fails to give you reasonable accommodations when you return to work, he or she is breaking the law. According to the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternack, “People with a ‘disability’ are not just people who cannot work or that who are collecting benefits. Anyone who has a disease, injury, or impairment – even a minor one – has rights to be accommodated in the workplace and have their condition respected and accounted for, and even ‘helped along’ by their employer. Even if your condition affects you infrequently, and even if it only in your past, you may be a person with a ‘disability’ and entitled to protection under the law.”
Take Time to Recover
The amount of time granted for the leave of absence will be determined by the worker’s compensation physician. During this time, the doctor will inform your employer about an estimated return to work date, if achievable.
Do not worry about getting back to work as soon as possible. Use this time to treat the injury per the doctor’s instructions. In order to be cleared to return to work, you will need to recover.
Coping With Stress
In the beginning, the process of recovering from an unexpected injury can be overwhelming. There will be a lot of paperwork to fill out, doctor visits to attend, and you will not receive a check from the worker’s compensation provider for a few weeks. Use your resources and ask questions.
Stay in contact with your physician. Sometimes, a simple signature could prevent your compensation check from clearing. If you take ownership of your treatment, the process will flow accordingly.
Let it Out!
You are most likely frustrated because you are not able to function at full capacity. It is natural to be upset. Connect with friends and family to get these feelings out. Holding them in will only add to the stress. Having a support system will get you through the difficult days.
If you cannot connect with others, write your feelings. Start a journal and log your progress. Chronicling your trials and tribulations throughout will be therapeutic. When the journey to recovery is over, you can bask in your success.
Enjoy Your Time Off
Take this time to find your passions. Your mind and body are used to going to work and accomplishing tasks so don’t stop. Read the book that’s been sitting on your shelf for months. Catch up with friends and family. Staying occupied with activities that bring you joy will help negate the stress and anxiety.
It is easier said than done but think positively. Understand that your needs are being taken care of. You will receive compensation to assist with your finances. Each day, look forward. Know that the injury will improve with time and effort.