Light Duty Job Offers in Workers’ Comp Cases
Although a lot of accidents at the workplace result in employees no longer being able to work, some workers are still well enough to be able to perform certain job duties. When this is the case, employers may choose to offer injured workers a “light duty” job.
How does a light-duty job offer affect your workers’ comp case and should you accept?
These types of offers can have serious effects on the outcome of your workers’ compensation claim, making it important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to decide the best course of action.
What is a Light Duty Job?
A light-duty job refers to work that is less demanding physically and/or mentally than the job the injured worker was previously performing. Employers cannot make these types of offers to all employees receiving workers’ comp benefits. Work restrictions determined by a physician have to be taken into account.
Depending on the severity of the employee’s injury or illness, the primary treating physician can:
- Determine the worker can return to work without restrictions
- Deem the worker able to go back to light duty work under certain restrictions
- Decide the employee is no longer able to work at all
If the physician decides to allow the injured worker to return to work in some capacity, work restrictions that might be applied include:
- No repetitive gripping or grasping,
- No heavy or vibrating tools,
- No prolonged typing
- No lifting of heavy objects
- No squatting
- No driving for prolonged lengths of time
- No sitting or walking for extensive periods of time
Before making a light-duty job offer, an employer must carefully consider the restrictions in question. Whether the worker accepts the offer is entirely up to him or her. However, both decisions can have a significant impact so a workers’ comp lawyer should be consulted on the matter.
Does a Light Duty Job Pay Less?
Accepting a light-duty job offer will affect the amount of lost wages benefits you receive depending on whether you are paid the same as before or less.
If you are paid the same, you will no longer be entitled to benefits for lost wages. However, if you are paid less, you will get partial disability benefits. That amount is two-thirds of the difference between your previous and current wages.
For example, if your weekly wages before your injury were $700, and you are now getting$400, the difference is $300. Your partial disability payment will be $200.
Should I Accept a Light Duty Job Offer?
Injured employees who are getting workers’ compensation benefits may suddenly receive a light-duty job offer from their employer. This work offer can lead to a perplexing situation for the injured worker since it is often unclear whether it is in their best interest to accept or not.
Should you accept a light-duty job offer? The answer depends on the circumstances of your case and whether or not your employer is making an honest and decent offer.
To understand why light duty offers are made to injured workers it is important to understand that both employers and their insurance companies will benefit financially if employees go back to work.
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Paying out large sums of money in workers’ comp benefits puts a huge dent in their profits so they do everything they can to bring those numbers down. It is not uncommon for some of these insurers to act in unethical and even illegal ways to save money. Employers might be enticed to offer injured workers light-duty jobs by lower insurance premiums.
Of course, some light-duty job offers might be beneficial to injured employees. The employer might be interested in helping the employee get back on his or her feet and feel productive. If this is the case, the employee might want to seriously consider accepting the offer, but this decision must be made carefully and ideally with the help of a qualified workers’ comp lawyer to avoid a negative outcome.
What Happens if I Do Not Accept a Light Duty Job Offer?
The question of whether you should accept or reject a light-duty job offer is more often than not a confusing one. The most important thing to consider is that your benefits could be reduced or terminated if you reject a legitimate light-duty job offer.
So should you accept any light-duty job offer your employer throws your way to avoid losing any benefits?
Here is what you should do when you get a light-duty job offer:
- Do Not Say NO
Since some or all your workers’ compensation benefits might be at risk if you decline a light-duty job offer, you should accept it. Even if it is a job you do not like for any reason, take it for the time being.
- Keep Records
Start keeping records of every duty assigned to you and how it affects your injury, especially if duties asked of you violate any restrictions. These records will be crucial if legal action is required later on. Even if something about your new light-duty job seems insignificant, make sure to include it in your records.
- See your Primary Care Physician
After starting your light-duty job assignment, let a few days or even a week go by. Then schedule an appointment to see your primary care physician. Let him know about the records you have been keeping to help him or her determine whether your new tasks are in line with restrictions or not.
- Get Legal Assistance
Contact a worker’s comp lawyer to talk about your case. Your attorney can provide you with the right legal assistance if you and your physician consider that there are discrepancies between what you can do and what is being asked of you at your place of employment.
Contact Us ASAP
If you are being offered an unsatisfactory light-duty job or have already been forced back to work duties that go against restrictions set by your physician, we can help.
Contact us ASAP at the Law Office of Robert E Frawley at (617) 523-2929!