Head injuries, ranging from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries, can be particularly concerning due to their potential impact on one's ability to work as well as their overall well-being. If you have suffered a head injury on the job, deciding when and how to return to work is a critical decision that should prioritize your recovery, safety and overall health. The duration of time you should be off work after a head injury depends on various factors, including the severity of your injury, medical evaluation and clearance, symptoms and recovery progress, job demands, accommodations, and other emotional considerations.
If you are not sure about when you should return to work after a head injury, or if you are uncertain about the types of benefits you may be entitled to, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced California work injury lawyer who can help you evaluate your situation and suggest next steps. A knowledgeable brain injury attorney will also be able to advise you about whether you may have a third-party or personal injury claim stemming from your workplace head injury.
When Should You Return to Work?
When you should return to work after a job-related head injury may depend on the following factors:
The Severity of the Head Injury
The severity of a head injury is one of the most crucial factors in determining the duration of time an individual should be off work. Head injuries can be categorized into three main types:
Mild Head Injuries: So-called mild head injuries, such as concussions, may require a shorter period of time off work, often ranging from a few days to several weeks. Recovery typically involves rest, symptom monitoring, and gradually returning to normal activities.
Moderate Head Injuries: Moderate head injuries may involve more significant symptoms and potential complications. Recovery may take several weeks to months, during which time an individual may need to take an extended leave from work.
Severe Head Injuries: Severe head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), can result in long-term disability and require an extended time off work. Sometimes, these types of injuries may result in permanent disabilities, which render victims unable to return to work. Victims can visit our page on TBI compensation settlements to learn more.
Medical Evaluation and Clearance
Before returning to work following a head injury, it is crucial to undergo a thorough medical evaluation. Healthcare professionals, such as neurologists or neuropsychologists, can assess an individual's cognitive and physical function to determine if they are medically fit to return to work. Medical clearance is essential to ensure that an individual can safely perform their job duties without risking further injury or causing existing symptoms to worsen.
Symptoms and Recovery Progress
The presence and severity of symptoms play a significant role in determining when an individual can return to work. Common symptoms of head injuries include headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, and mood changes. You should only consider returning to work when your symptoms have significantly improved or resolved, and you are able to perform your job duties without these symptoms interfering with your work performance.
Type of Work and Occupational Demands
The nature of an individual's job also influences the decision to return to work after a head injury. Jobs that involve physical labor, operating heavy machinery, or handling dangerous equipment may require a more extended period off work to ensure safety. However, individuals with desk jobs or jobs that involve minimal physical demands may be able to return to work sooner, provided their symptoms have improved and their healthcare provider has given them clearance.
Mental Health and Emotional Considerations
Head injuries can often have emotional and psychological consequences, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is essential to address these mental health aspects during the recovery process. Professionals may recommend therapy, counseling, or support groups to help you cope with the emotional challenges associated with a head injury.
Can I Return to Work Without Fully Recovering?
In California, you may return to work even if you have not fully recovered from your injuries. However, it often depends on whether or not your employer is able to provide you with a job that is suitable to your condition. If you sustained an injury in 2013 or later, if you have a permanent partial disability, your claims administrator must send you what is called a Notice of Offer of Regular, Modified, or Alternative Work after your doctor notified them. Your employer must offer a job that you can handle and one that meets any work restrictions put in place by your doctor. In addition, the work should last for at least 12 months and is within a reasonable distance from your home.
What Happens If I Don't Have a Job When I Return?
As an injured worker who is returning to work, you have the right to continue working under your old employer. The law requires that your employer provide you a job that can accommodate your limitations. If an employer provides you with work that is not appealing to you, it may still be an offer that meets the legal requirements. In such cases, your employer cannot be held liable if you decline the offer.
However, in some cases, an employer might not offer work that meets your medical restrictions. This is a violation of California labor laws, which clearly state that it is illegal to discriminate against an injured employee, including firing or threatening to fire them because of their injury.
How a California Work Injury Lawyer Can Help
Workers in California have the right to fair compensation when they are injured on the job. You have the right to take the time that you need to recover well from your injuries while being assured of job safety. You have the right not to be discriminated against or stigmatized in the workplace because of your head injury. Our California work injury lawyers at Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC work diligently to make sure workers are treated with dignity, especially during a time when they are most vulnerable. Our team of knowledgeable and experienced work injury lawyers will fight to protect your rights every step of the way. Call us today for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.