What Is Light Duty Work in a Workers’ Compensation Case?
When you experience an injury or accident on the job, your injury may require that you take time off in order to recover. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be obvious that you are unable to work – such as when you break a bone – or it may require the determination of a medical expert to decide that rest is most important for your healing.
During your time off of work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your lost wages and to make sure that you are able to make ends meet and pay your bills. Your doctor will continue to monitor your progress and treatment and get you the ongoing therapy that you need.
Eventually, it is likely that your injury will heal to an extent that you can begin to perform most necessary functions like sitting, walking, standing, or typing at a computer. When a worker reaches a stage where some types of work can be performed, the workers’ compensation system may require him or her to return to work in order to minimize benefit payouts. One way this is done is through light duty work.
What Is Light Duty Work in Cape May Court House?
The goal for both employers and workers’ compensation insurers is to return an employee to work as soon as possible. This reduces the amount that must be paid out to the employee. A doctor, however, must feel that the employee is ready to return to work in order to authorize such a return. A middle ground, that can appease both parties, is light duty work.
Light duty work is work authorization from a medical provider that comes with restrictions in order to ensure that the employee can continue to safely recover from his or her injury. For example, if an employee has a knee injury, he or she may be cleared to work as long as it does not involve standing for long periods of time.
Another example is a construction worker with a back injury who cannot lift heavy items. He may be allowed to return to work as long as he does not lift items of more than 15 pounds.
Light duty work is considered a temporary answer in most situations and often requires the temporary reorganization of employees. If a worker cannot perform all of his or her normal duties, another individual at the company may be assigned to take over his or her role and the injured worker will perform a lesser role until cleared to return to work full time.
Your Rights as an Employee and Light Duty Work
If a medical professional clears you for light duty work and your employer offers you a light duty position, you do not have the right to refuse that position and keep your workers’ compensation benefits. If a reasonable position is available and you refuse that position, your employer may fire you or terminate your benefits.
However, employers also may not pressure or intimidate employees into light duty work, and they cannot pressure medical providers into signing off on light duty work where they do not feel it is appropriate. If you feel personally pressured to return to work or believe that your employer may be acting to try to force you back to work, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney.
One of the best ways to avoid being forced into a work position, even light duty, that you are not ready for is to make sure that your doctor is well aware of the physical limitations that you continue to face and any pain and suffering that you experience. Where light duty is appropriate but restrictions are necessary, your medical professional should clearly spell out those restrictions so that they cannot be violated by an employer.
New Jersey Attorneys Protecting You from Returning to Work Too Soon
Although employers should respect your injury and the workers’ compensation process, many are eager to have employees return to work as soon as possible in order to minimize expenses and productivity slow-downs from time lost. This can sometimes lead to dishonesty and manipulation of the workers’ compensation process.
If you feel like you are being forced to return to full-time work, or light duty work, earlier than your body is ready for, it is important that you fight back in order to protect your rights and your health.
In addition to helping clients face and overcome these specific issues, our New Jersey workers’ comp lawyers help injured employees through every step of the process.
Some of the exceptional legal services we will provide you include the following:
- Timely and complete filing of required documents with your employer, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development – Workers’ Compensation Division, the court, etc.
- Assistance in obtaining authorization for medical treatment.
- Assistance with the Independent Medical Exam (IME) process.
- Direct communication with your employer and workers’ comp insurance company.
- Obtaining all necessary medical bills and records.
- Conducting necessary legal and factual research specific to your case.
- Representation at all hearings before the Department of Labor.
- The handling of any necessary appeals.
In many instances, the outcome of your workers’ comp case will largely depend on the skill of your New Jersey work injury attorney and the quality of your legal representation. Your attorney’s level of education, experience, track record, legal abilities, and reputation matter – big time.
Petro Cohen, P.C. has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s leading firms in the area of workers’ comp. The firm received the highest rating by Martindale-Hubbell – the world’s foremost authority on law firm credentials – in Professional Excellence and Ethical Standards and Legal Ability.
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our workers’ compensation attorneys can assist you in fighting for your right to recovery and make sure that you receive all of the benefits that you rightfully deserve. For more information or a free initial consultation at one of our four southern New Jersey offices (Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, or Hamilton), contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.