Understanding Workers’ Compensation Return-to-Work Restrictions
Being injured on the job can be terrifying, especially if your injuries prevent you from being able to return to work for a period of time. However, if you are able to go back to work after being injured on the job, it’s important that you understand workers’ compensation return-to-work restrictions. At the Marc Brown Law Firm, our South Carolina workers’ compensation attorney is here to guide you through return-to-work restrictions in our state. Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help.
What Does it Mean When You Are Released Back to Work?
If you suffer an injury on the job that is disabling, you will likely receive partial wage replacement benefits while you recuperate at home. Once you have recovered to a certain extent, though, the workers’ compensation doctor may release you to go back to work. If you are not fully recovered, then the doctor will release you to perform “light duty” work. This means that you will perform different work than you did prior to the injury and/or your employer will be required to make reasonable accommodations for you based on your physical injury. This is known as returning to work with restrictions.
Do I Have to Accept Work with Restrictions?
If you are asked to return to work on light duty or work with restrictions, then you must accept it. In fact, if you are ordered by your doctor to perform light duty work and you do not accept it, then any compensation that has been being allocated to you in the form of wage replacement benefits may cease entirely.
Note that if you do choose to return to work and you are making less money than you were prior to the accident because you are doing light duty work, you can continue to receive compensation at a rate of 66 ⅔ the difference between the weekly wage you were making before the accident and the weekly wage you are making after returning to light duty.
I Disagree with My Doctor’s Decision to Release Me to Return to Work with Restrictions – What Can I Do?
It is not uncommon for a doctor to make the determination that a patient is ready to return to work and perform light duty work before the patient feels like they are really able to do so. If you are released to work with restrictions before you believe you are ready, it is important that you take action immediately. The first thing that you should do is talk to your insurance carrier and see whether or not there is another doctor who they will allow you to see. If this doesn’t work, you can request a hearing by filing a Form 50. You can also request an independent medical exam (IME). In all cases, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced attorney who can review your case and assist you.
Does My Employer Have to Accommodate Me?
Another question we often hear is in regard to an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee who needs light duty work due to an injury stemming from a workplace accident. While an employer should make reasonable accommodations—and while you will have to accept light duty work if it is offered—if the employer cannot find a job for you or cannot reasonably accommodate you, then your employer will need to continue paying you temporary disability benefits until you recover.
Work With an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Understanding workers’ compensation return-to-work restrictions after an accident can be confusing, especially if you don’t feel ready to return to work. At the Marc Brown Law Firm, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is here to help. To learn more about workers’ compensation and how our law firm can assist you during this time, call us directly or send us a message at your convenience. We work entirely on a contingent-fee basis (we only get paid when we recover compensation for you) and we always offer free, no-obligation consultations.