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Protecting the Rights of Injured Workers

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Vocational rehabilitation: the role it can play after a work injury

Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. You can’t be fired for doing so.

But your employer isn’t required to hold your job open for you indefinitely, either, while you are recovering from serious work injuries. If your injuries prevent you from working for a significant duration of time, you can be replaced.

Obviously there is a tension between these two positions. Though an employer can’t fire you for pursuing a workers’ comp claim, you don’t get permanent dibs on your old job, either.

Of course, each person faces his or her own challenges and unique circumstances after a work injury. For example, for some people returning to work part-time may be a legitimate opportunity. We discussed that scenario in our April 25 post.

For other people, the severity of their injuries may prevent them from returning to work at all. When their temporary total disability benefits end, they may be eligible for permanent disability. As we discussed in our March 21 post, this may bring not only workers’ comp law, but also Social Security disability law, into play.

Another common scenario, however, involves the need for vocational rehabilitation before going back to work. After you have suffered a serious work injury and received medical treatment, your employer or the employer’s work comp insurance carrier may ask you to submit to a vocational evaluation.

The purpose of this evaluation would be to determine whether vocational rehabilitation services could assist in your return to the workforce. The Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has many such services available.

The process is best approached, however, with the counsel of a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer. To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on vocational rehabilitation.

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