If you suffer an accident at work that was not your fault, one of the most daunting experiences can be returning back to work. Your confidence may have depreciated and you may become anxious that you can no longer carry out your role to the best of your ability. You may also worry about how you are to be treated at work.
Whilst going back to work after an accident can be scary, it is important that you do so. This is because when a party suffers an injury caused by an accident that was not their fault, they have a duty not to make matters worse.
What this means essentially is that you must ensure that you take reasonable steps to mitigate your losses that were caused as a result of the accident. Therefore, if your doctor certifies you fit to return to work but you make the conscious decision not to return then this loss cannot be said to have been caused by the accident.
The duty is not directly enforceable by anyone and is the voluntary responsibility of yourself. You might be thinking that this means that you are obliged to turn up to work whenever you see fit. However, this is not the case. If you fail to take steps to mitigate your loss (i.e. by not returning to work when your doctor has recommended that you do so) then the damages that you recover will be affected by this. For example, the court may award a sum that takes into account that you did not return to work when you had been certified fit to return. Therefore, you would be unable to claim for the loss of earnings that were incurred from your failure to return to work when you could have reasonably prevented yourself from incurring this loss.
Better to return to work by recommendation by your doctor than to worry yourself out of it and risk losing compensation.
Question to ask before returning to work
- Will it affect my case if I return back to work?
A law case will not be over by the mere fact of returning back to work. It’s actually quite the opposite. If you don’t return back to work when your doctor recommended that you do then this could affect your claim.
- Does returning to work mean I am better?
Not necessarily, you may have to return back to work on light duties. Or because you have no other alternatives.
- Shall I go back to work even if my doctor certifies me unfit to do so?
Going to work against your doctor’s orders can worsen your symptoms. This places extra time on your recovery and could cause permanent damage. Never return to work against your doctor’s orders.