I am often asked by clients during the course of a claim… “should I return to work?”. My response generally and subject to medical advice is “yes”. There are two reasons why I believe a client should take up the opportunity of returning to work:
- The obligation to mitigate loss; and
- Personal gain.
The law dictates that a person subject to a personal injuries claim must “mitigate their loss”. This is a term tossed around by lawyers and insurance companies, however, it basically means that an injured person must take every reasonable step to secure employment or advance their prospects of securing employment.
Accordingly, any opportunity to return to work, subject, of course, to medical opinion, where that opportunity might be a suitable duties program, host employment, return to full duties or the opportunity of commencing a TAFE course, should be taken up. Any failure to do so may result in a reduction in the damages or compensation the client might be otherwise entitled to receive.
The second reason I encourage clients to return to work is for their own personal gain. Once the client’s claim comes to an end and settlement monies are received, life simply goes on. There can be great personal benefits gained from returning to work subsequent to any accident.
I often see clients gain confidence and self satisfaction once they have made a successful return to work after being involved in an accident. The client may still be encountering certain physical and psychological difficulties, however, overcoming those problems by returning to work or undertaking additional studies often allows them to move forward, putting the accident and the claim behind them.
Whilst there is little doubt that a client may encounter certain physical and psychological difficulties returning to work and, of course, the fear of further aggravation, it is critical from a legal and personal perspective for a client to take advantage of any opportunity of returning to the workforce.