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What Happens If I Am Reinjured After Returning to Work?

Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Re-Injury Lawyers

Maybe you pushed yourself to return to work, only to discover that you pushed too hard. Maybe your doctor cleared you to return to work sooner than you expected, given how you feel. Maybe you went back to work on a restricted schedule but were ordered to tackle on your full range of usual tasks.

Whatever the reason, Arkansas workers who return to work after an injury face a high risk of re-injuring themselves. Reinjury makes workers’ compensation cases more complicated一and they force you to deal with workers’ compensation, doctor’s visits, and other challenges even longer than you initially planned.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. The experienced worker’s compensation reinjury lawyers at The Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. can help.

Reinjury Statistics After an Initial Injury

Studies show that after an injury, the risk of suffering a second injury is higher. A study published in the Journal of Trauma found that:

  • The risk of injury increases 250 percent on average after an initial injury.
  • The risk of reinjury is highest between 6 and 12 months after the first injury.
  • By two and a half years after the first injury, the risk decreases, but a reinjury is still twice as likely as if the first injury had never occurred.
  • An elevated risk of a second injury is present for up to five years after the first injury.

A study on knee surgery patients who returned to playing sports found that the risk of reinjury was highest when the patients returned to playing sports quickly after their surgery. The risk dropped with each month the patient waited to return to playing sports in the first nine months. After nine months, the risk of reinjury leveled out.

The study also found that certain exercises could help reduce the risk of re-injury. For patients with ACL reconstruction of the knee, doing exercises that strengthened the thigh muscles and focused on equal strength gains on both sides helped reduce reinjury risks.

These studies provide two helpful guidelines for workers seeking to return to their jobs after an injury:

  • Go slowly. Your risk of re-injury may be higher than you think, and it may last for longer than you expect.
  • Focus on therapy and recovery. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other practices give you the strength and skills to help reduce your risk of being injured again. Talk to your doctor about rehabilitation and therapies if you haven’t already.

As these studies indicate, people who experience an injury are at a higher risk of a second injury than those who never got hurt in the first place. This includes people who return to work after being injured on the job.

What to Do If You’re Injured Again After Returning to Work

A re-injury at work is an injury at work. If one happens, you can file a workers’ compensation claim, just as you did with the first injury.

In some cases, a re-injury is separate from the first injury. Although it may occur because you’re already in recovery from an injury, a “new re-injury” affects a different part of the body or causes damage in a different way than your first injury. For these injuries, you can file a separate workers’ compensation claim – and start the workers’ compensation process over from the beginning.

Other re-injuries affect the already-injured part of the body. Examples include twisting an ankle and spraining it at work or tearing open stitches you needed due to a work-related injury.

Re-injury claims related to the initial injury can become complex. If the existing injury simply got worse, a re-injury claim might be one you can include in your initial workers’ compensation claim. If that first claim has been closed, however, you may need to file a new claim for medical care, time off work, and other needs related to the reinjury.

Talk to an Experienced Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Injury Lawyer Today

As a rule, workers’ compensation insurers are skeptical about reinjury claims. They hesitate to re-open claims they consider closed, and they may raise objections about covering medical care for an injury that, in their mind, they already paid for.

You might face more pushback on a re-injury claim than you did on your initial workers’ compensation claim. Arkansas law allows workers to appeal workers’ compensation decisions that affect their claims in many cases.

While you can appeal those decisions alone, working with an experienced attorney can improve your chances of success. Your attorney can also handle the paperwork and negotiations related to your injury, so you can focus on healing.

It can also be tough to tell if your re-injury needs an entirely new claim, if it can be connected to an already-open claim, or if you need a new claim for some parts and the existing claim for others. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you figure out the best strategy to ensure you get the compensation you need.

No matter how careful you are when you return to work, re-injury can still occur. If it does, reach out to the team at the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield today. Our experienced Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys will answer your questions and help you decide how to move forward. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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