After being injured at work, you might be presented with the opportunity to perform light duty work. In some cases, this could simply be a modification of the duties you performed prior to your injury, but oftentimes, it is an entirely different assignment. For example, light duty work might involve shorter shifts, jobs that involve less or no physical labor, or work that allows you to move at a slower pace. This type of work might also include supervising on job sites and reporting on them, performing office duties, or performing maintenance on equipment. The type of light duty work you are able to do will depend on your medical restrictions.
Before you accept or decline an offer for light duty work, however, it is critical that you understand how it could potentially affect your workers’ compensation benefits, so you can weigh out the pros and cons.
We have compiled a list of helpful information you should consider if you are contemplating light duty work:
- Light duty work can threaten your workers’ compensation claim: Accepting light duty work will inevitably have an effect on your workers’ compensation claim. If you agree to perform light duty work, and the wages you earn are the same or more than what you made prior to your injury, the payments you receive for lost wages will come to an end. If the wages you earn are less than what you were making prior to the injury, you will continue to receive lost wage payments, but they will be in the form of partial disability benefits. That said, if you decline an offer of appropriate light duty work, your employer can petition a judge and seek to modify or terminate your benefits.
- If your employer tries to force you back to work through the use of a company doctor, you can seek a second opinion: In some cases, an employer might attempt to force an injured employee back to work through a company-paid doctor. Even when employees know they are too injured to work, they often accept these light duty assignments out of fear for the loss of their benefits. However, you have a right to a second opinion. Of course, this means you will have to see your own doctor at your expense, but if he or she agrees that you are too injured to perform even light duty work, you can refuse the offer. Your employer might still file a petition to have your benefits suspended or terminated though nothing will go into effect until a judge reviews your case.
- Workers’ compensation benefits are still available even while performing light duty work: If you are eligible for and offered light duty work, you will receive partial disability payments if your new assignment pays less than what you were previously earning. Workers’ compensation benefits will also continue to cover all expenses related to your work injury and, if you are laid off, fired without cause, or your doctor decides that light duty work is not suitable for you, your workers’ compensation payments will start again.
If you are being forced to accept light duty work after sustaining an injury on the job, but believe you are still too injured to return to work, you need to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to protect your rights. You should also contact an attorney if you are not sure whether or not it is in your best interest to accept light duty work.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Fresno
If you were injured while performing your job and are now being offered light duty work, you should consult with an experienced attorney to ensure you are making the best decision for your circumstances. At Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation, we have over 130 years of combined legal experience and will use to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Work with a law firm that has a proven record of success and give us a call at (559) 227-7290 to schedule a free case evaluation with a Fresno workers’ compensation attorney today.