Getting sick at work or as a result of your job is a common occurrence in certain workplaces, and this automatically qualifies you for workers' compensation benefits. Many things are considered, for instance, who is at fault, what kind of injury you have suffered, and whether or not the injury is covered under Workers' Compensation Insurance. Injured workers have rehabilitation rights that should be respected in addition to the amount of money the insurance company gives them for medical treatment and other benefits.

Rehabilitation for injured workers ensures that workers are well enough to get back to work or continue earning a living no matter how severe the injury they suffered was. Understanding these rights is crucial for injured employees and The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Orange County is here to offer advice and help in ensuring that your rights to rehabilitation are respected.

What are Rehabilitation Rights for Injured Workers?

As far as Workers' Compensation is concerned, rehabilitation has different meanings:

Physical therapy- this is the restorative care that is aimed at overcoming any injuries an employee must have suffered and also allow them to regain their total functionality.

Vocational rehabilitation- this entails rebuilding of work skills that an employee may have lost or missed out on, as a way of helping them recover their functionality after an illness or injury.

Employees who have been injured in their workplaces and are not able to go back to work immediately are entitled to both physical therapies if they require it, and vocational rehabilitation. The provision is usually made at the cost of the employer's workers' compensation carrier.

Workers’ Compensation Physical Therapy

Some workplace injuries come with much pain that can destroy a worker's lifestyle. Some will forever change the life of the injured employee. This explains why the pain and suffering of injured workers should be addressed under workers' compensation. The good thing is that good physical therapy, and a dedicated therapy program can improve the quality of life of such employees significantly.

How can therapy help after a workplace injury? Physical therapy is offered by a professionally trained physical therapist who can help improve your mobility and motion. Some injuries will affect your motion and movement, and so, an improvement in these areas will help a lot in increasing your chances of earning a living again. You will also be able to handle day-to-day activities with no challenges.

Note that physical therapy is designed to help with both your immediate injuries and also your long-term recovery process. It can help reduce the amount of pain medication you might need before full recovery and also reduce the chances of getting re-injured again in the future.

Spending more time at home for an employee who has been working well for years is a hard thing to deal with, and also for their family. Physical therapy will ensure that the injured employee is getting back to work sooner.

An injured employee can benefit significantly from a physical therapy program. Some benefits include:

  • An employee who had lost their usual range of motion could have it restored through therapy

  • The pain and stiffness could be reduced too, making it easy for them to work with minimal issues

  • The employee’s strength, full functionality, endurance as well as flexibility are restored

  • Quick and complete recovery is guaranteed when one is undergoing therapy

  • Risks of re-injuring themselves again are minimized through physical conditioning, and the patient education they get from the therapy sessions.

A well-trained physical therapist will also advise employees on the kinds of light duties they can take as they recover. Therapists also offer assistance as injured workers transit from one level of recovery to the other. This keeps the employee occupied for the period of their recovery and also ensures that anything they do is not detrimental to their recovery process.

For employers, having a physical therapy program in place is a way to assure their employees that they will get the best physical support in case they get injured as they perform their duties. Such a program can also be used to train employees on the importance of safety in the workplace and measures they can take personally to remain safe as they work. This will minimize the number of injuries reported in the workplace.

Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Employees

Vocational rehabilitation refers to the process through which injured workers rebuild their skills and abilities as they recover from a job-related injury or illness. At times an injured employee can go back to their job with no problems, but for an employee who has sustained a permanent or long-term limitation from the injury, they may need proper rehabilitation to get back to work. For an employee who is unable to go back to their old job after an injury, vocational rehabilitation may involve retraining them for a new kind of job.

The state of California is among the States that offer vocational rehabilitation for injured employees. Therefore, if you or someone you know has fallen sick or gotten injured on the line of duty, it is essential to speak to your attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will ensure that you get all the benefits you are entitled to in your employee’s workers’ compensation insurance as well as make sure that your rehabilitation rights as an injured worker have been respected.

Examples of Vocational Rehabilitation for Injured Employees

There are different types of vocational rehabilitation provided by employers for their injured employees in California. The amount of recovery an injured worker needs will depend on the types of injuries sustained and the kind of work they are going back to do.

On-the-job Training

On-the-job training (OJT) is a method of teaching employees the knowledge, competencies, and skills that they will need to perform well at the job they will be taking after recovering from a workplace injury. This kind of training is done on a specific job within the workplace, in the same environment where the employee will be stationed. Trainers will use the existing tools, documents, equipment, and machines as well as the current knowledge to teach the employee how to be effective in the job they were doing before the injury. The training is essential for employees who spend a reasonable amount of time away after an injury as it enables them to get back to their job and perform as effectively as they did before the injury.

OTJ training can be done by a coworker who is ultimately able to perform on that job. The human resource staff can also come in to train the injured worker on company requirements and policies, leadership training, and any other topic they feel will be necessary at that instant.

The main reason why OJT is essential is that it gives the company a chance to retain the most experienced employees. After an injury, a company is likely to lose the employee if they do not act quickly to reintegrate that employee back to the system. Retaining experienced employees will save the company much time and money, which could have been utilized in hiring and training a new set of employees to replace those that have been injured on-the-job. Again, a business is likely to continue doing well or to do better if it retains employees who have fully understood its operations and policies.

Even if the employee had the best skills and experience, they are likely to lose so much during the time they will be away from work recovering from an injury. Again, some injuries may make the employee become dispirited and not interested in working anymore. Training the employee on-the-job will bring that employee back into the working mood as well as help them rediscover their skills to be able to perform even better once they come back to work.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling

Injured workers are likely to develop reactive depression, which occurs after a particular negative experience or event. People who have suffered a significant illness or injury are the most affected because they usually struggle with the emotional impact of the disease or injury. Vocational rehabilitation counseling is designed to deal with this kind of stress and depression. A professionally trained counselor will be used in this case to help the employee overcome the sadness and discover better and newer ways to live after the illness or injury.

In most cases, employees who have suffered disabilities as a result of workplace injuries are unable to live with the thought of never living their lives fully or never earning a living like before. Some struggle with living independently after the injury, and even as they go through physical therapy, vocational rehabilitation counseling can help a lot with this. A counselor will be able to offer emotional support as well as guidance to help these employees accept their disability and learn how to deal with them, and deal with all the emotional, psychological and mental issues that come with it.

Several reasons can lead to depression among employees. For some, the loss they experience after an illness or injury at work is enough to send them deep into depression. Employees who have undergone a significant injury that left then incapacitated, either short-term or long-term, are more susceptible because such an injury completely changes their lives.

A qualified counselor will come through and help the injured worker deal with:

  • The fear and anxiety that comes with the illness, injury and lost time or functionality

  • Their unhelpful thinking patterns and how they can reconsider them

  • The change they need to adopt in their belief system about how their lives should be

  • How they can participate and aid in their recovery and the practical steps they need to take

  • The counselor will offer emotional support that is required to strengthen the emotional resilience of the employee

  • Together with the counselor, the employee can map out stages they need to go through to recover fully. This gives them hope of a good future

  • A listening ear and emotional support can go a long way.

Transferable Skills Analysis and Testing

Testing and analysis of transferable skills are done to determine the kinds of positions a person might fill if their previous position in a company or job market no longer exists. Employees who take an extended time off work recovering from a job-related injury or illness find themselves struggling to fit back in other jobs if their jobs no longer exist. Vocational rehabilitation ensures that this does not happen by providing a chance for these employees to identify and strengthen the skills they have for other job openings that might fit them well.

Testing and analysis of transferable skills are also done if an injured worker is incapable of performing in their previous job but can do well in another position. In that case, a career counselor can be called upon to help the employee determine their strong skills and how best they can fit back in the organization they previously worked for or in another job. What the counselor does is to help determine transferable skills from the past accomplishments and experience of the employee.

The main categories of transferable skills that are considered in such a case include:

  • Soft skills, such as people or interpersonal skills. These are the kinds of skills that allow a person to relate positively with others, to communicate, inspire, and influence those around them. Examples are listening skills, cooperation skills, coaching skills, and delegating work, among others.

  • Technical skills- these are the practical skills such as one’s ability to work with specific machinery, how proficient a person is with the use of computers, computer software, and hardware and whether or not they are good at repairing or building. Some skills under this category will be programming, SQL knowledge, Illustrator proficiency, Photoshop, and more.

  • Analytical skills- these are the intellectual skills that enable a person to identify analyze and resolve problems. How creative or innovative are you? Are you good at finding feasible solutions to problems? Skills under this category will be, for example, data gathering skills, research skills, creativity, data analysis skills, and risk analysis.

  • Personal skills- these are mainly skills that define you in your workplace, such as reliability, diligence, integrity, decision-making ability, and punctuality.

  • Organizational skills- these are the skills that help you plan, sort data, arrange resources and projects, coordinate multiple tasks, maintain accurate records, manage tasks and coordination, among other things.

Assistance with Interview Skills and Techniques

This will be needed if the employee will go back to searching for a job after recovering from a work-related injury. It is not all the time that an employee goes back to their job or the company they were working for. If the employee does not want to resume their previous job, or they are unable to perform well in their last job, and the company does not have another position that best fits their skills and experience, they will have to look for a job elsewhere after recovering, hence the need for assistance with interview skills and techniques.

The employee will need help drafting their CV, writing compelling job applications, understanding the current job market and the kinds of jobs they qualify to apply as well as interview skills and techniques that will help them land a job much quicker once they start getting invitations for interviews.

When it comes to job interviews, even the smartest employee needs prior preparation to get it right. Job interviews can be a little intimidating, and you never get a second chance to make a great impression. How do you dress for the job you are applying for and the company you are targeting? What interview skills do you need to learn, and how do you present yourself to the panel? There is a lot more than an interview coach can teach the employee to help them get back to earning a living live before.

Job Search Assistance

Other than helping them prepare for interviews, injured employees should be helped to find jobs that best suit their skills and abilities after fully recovering from their injuries or illnesses. Losing one's job after suffering a work-related injury is not fair, which is why your former employer should put enough measures in place to make sure that you are finding a job quickly after recovering.

A person who has been in employment for a long time may find it challenging to search for a job. Since they cannot depend on welfare for long, injured employees need to get a job as quickly as they can so they can continue earning a living. A headhunter or an employment agency may be employed to help you get a job that matches your skills and experience and one that will enable you to enjoy the kind of life you were enjoying before the injury or an even better life.

If you have been out of work for a long time, a little coaching may be required to make sure that you are sending the right applications to the right companies. You might also need help in connecting with potential employers as well as applying for freshly advertise jobs as soon as open vacancies are created.

An injured worker may also be entitled to:

  • Resume and job application completion services

  • Labor market surveys

  • Job analyses

  • Wage assessment evaluations

  • Ergonomics assessments

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodation assistance

  • Medical case management

  • Education and Tuition payments for retraining

Note that the specific vocational rehabilitation benefits that an injured worker is entitled to are limited to their particular situation and also to the kind of workers' compensation insurance their employer is paying for. In California, an employee must apply for vocational rehabilitation, which can be done within fifteen years since the injury occurred. Sometimes an employee may refuse to take part in the rehabilitation or to work with rehabilitation service providers. When this happens, the insurance carrier will reduce or even suspend the benefits for lost wages for the employee for the time they will have failed to cooperate.

Employee Responsibility

Employers are required to accept the appropriate rehabilitation services that their employers offer. Their primary responsibility in this is for them to cooperate with their employer and recognize the efforts their employers are making in ensuring that they return to suitable employment after a work-related injury or illness. Like mentioned above, refusal to participate in a rehabilitation program by injured workers in California is not well taken and may affect the worker's eligibility for other benefits offered under Workers' Compensation.

Employer Responsibility

Employers have a statutory and regulatory mandate related to the rehabilitation of injured workers. The kinds of rehabilitation services offered to employees will depend mainly on the types of injuries they have suffered and how much time they have lost from work. In California, vocational rehabilitation is issued out in the form of a voucher, and the injured worker will be expected to cater for all the needs they might have that will enable them to get back to employment. For a worker to benefit from vocational rehabilitation services, they must have been permanently disabled, not able to return to their previous work or not able to get an alternative job with the same employer among other things.

Consult a Orange County Workers Compensation Lawyer Near Me

The issue of rehabilitation rights for an injured worker is a little challenging, especially if you do not know what you are entitled to after suffering an injury at work. Other than the Workers compensation benefits, there are rehabilitation rights, which are meant to help you recover from injuries and earn a living. The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Orange County helps individuals understand what their rehabilitation rights are and how they can seek workers’ benefits. Call us at 562-485-9694 so that we can cover the entire process as we help you get all the benefits you are entitled to receive.

If you have work comp injury we recommend this website for more information: Los Angeles Workers Comp Lawyer