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What if I can't resume my job after a workplace injury accident?

Most workers in Worcester County who get injured on the job will be able to return to work, although recovery may take longer in some cases than in others. However, in some cases, the severity of the injuries suffered will make that an unfortunate impossibility. What can workers do in this situation?

Here in Massachusetts, injured workers may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation, which helps retrain them for a different job or even an entirely new career. Priority will be given to returning the employee to the same job with the same employer, perhaps with modifications to the job itself if possible. Otherwise, the next preferred options will be a different job with the same employer, or a different employer when necessary. If none of these options work out, retraining services are another option.

Not everyone qualifies for vocational rehabilitation. Generally speaking, suitable candidates will be those experiencing permanent functional limitations, yet otherwise medically stable. Their insurers will have accepted liability, and the Massachusetts Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation must consider vocational rehabilitation as a feasible, cost-effective option for them.

While vocational rehabilitation is an important benefit along with workers' compensation, it comes with some restrictions. Workers who accept a lump sum settlement must apply for vocational rehabilitation within two years. And ultimately, a new job is still not guaranteed.

This information is provided as general background only, but work accident victims who are finding it difficult or impossible to return to their old jobs may wish to consult with a legal professional about this and other options available to them. When dealing with potentially uncooperative employers, insurance companies, and state agencies, it's important to have a strong legal advocate on one's behalf.

Source: Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation, "Return to Work Assistance," accessed on Dec. 12, 2014

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