Work-related injuries can have a disastrous effect on your career. You may need workers’ compensation benefits but fear that you employer will retaliate if you apply. That should not happen: retaliation and discrimination can be a violation of California law.

If you have a work-related injury or illness, you have rights. Here are some things you need to know about your options under California workers’ compensation law.

You may return to work

If you wish to return to work, you will likely be able to do so. Several people will participate in the decision: your doctor, your supervisor and a representative from your employer’s insurance company. You need to communicate with everyone involved. Your doctor needs to understand what you do at work, and your supervisor needs to understand your new limitations.

You may do different work

If your injury prevents you from doing the same tasks you did before, you may still be able to return to work. Your doctor can provide guidelines. The guidelines should outline your physical restrictions and request changes to your working conditions. Your employer should assign you only tasks that meet your doctor’s guidelines.

You may refrain from working

Your doctor may tell you that you should not return to your old job. You may never be able to do the work you used to do. In that case, your employer should offer you regular, modified or alternative work. If such work is not available, you may receive job displacement or disability benefits.

Work-related injuries and illnesses can change the course of your career. However, even permanent limitations should not mean the end of your income.