Returning to Work
Returning to work can raise a host of workers’ compensation and disability issues. Consult with these specialists if these issues are present, to make sure your clients’ rights on those fronts are fully protected. Sending a client back to work before he is ready could set him up for a subsequent termination that could cut off workers compensation benefits, or otherwise cause harm.
But once you have made sure that there are no such barriers or problems standing in the way, and of course consistent with medical advice, urge your client to try getting back to their life as fully as possible. I have had some great clients whose employers were very accommodating, and found a place for them in a different role than they had before the accident (such as a less hectic schedule, and a dark and quiet room to work in when needed). I have had other clients who went back to work, tried heroically, and simply had to be let go because they were unable to keep up. In both situations, the employer became a compelling and frankly unimpeachable damages witness. And any suggestion that your client is malingering or motivated by secondary gain (or whatever more arch insinuation the defense team floats your way) goes out the window. You want your client to be a fighter who wants to return to his prior life but simply cannot, and there is no clearer example of this than the worker who climbs back into the ring after a devastating injury.
The same is true of community activities. If your client used to volunteer at a homeless shelter, an animal shelter, or the school library, by all means get back at it. You are likely to get the kind of clear, compelling evidence that even the most well-credentialed, polished defense expert cannot explain away or displace.