What is Light Duty Work and How Can it Affect My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Let’s envision a scenario where you are one of the thousands of Floridians who is injured on the job every year and subsequently files a workers’ compensation claim. It may obvious to you, your employer, and the insurance company that you are not able to do the job you were doing previously. However, did you know that there is something called light duty work that has the potential to eliminate your ability to obtain or retain workers’ compensation?
What is Light Duty Work?
Light duty work is a kind of transitional work in which an employee may be deemed fit to work under certain circumstances, which typically requires that medical restrictions stipulated by your doctor are put in place.
What Are Examples of Light Duty Work?
- Seated work
- Weight restrictions
- One-handed work
- Reduced hours
- Modified duties
Why Do Employers and Insurance Companies Try to Implement Light Duty Work?
Because light duty work is one way that the cost of a workers’ compensation claim can be controlled – or in other words, be made cheaper for them. However, while your employer and its insurance company have an interest in keeping costs down, your primary concern is ensuring that you are able to recover fully from the injuries you incurred at work. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney helps to ensure that your interests are not lost in the course of saving money and that you are forced to prematurely return to work.
Can I Refuse to Take a Light Duty Job That is Offered to Me?
Historically, the answer to this question has been “no” and recent Florida case law appears to reflect that this remains true. The First District Court of Appeal recently held in Employbridge v. Rodriguez that the injured employee in that case would not receive workers’ compensation benefits after refusing a light duty job offered by her employer because the job was in a different location and would be difficult for her to get to. The employee in that case injured her right knee onsite in at work in Largo. Her employer subsequently offered her clerical work as light duty work at the business’s Tampa location which the employee refused and instead filed for temporary disability benefits which her employer rejected while asserting that the employee had refused suitable employment. Despite each of the judges on the three-member panel feeling compelled to write a respective opinion, two of the three agreed and the employee’s claim was denied.
Generally, any refusal of light duty work that complies with the restrictions set by your doctor will be deemed a refusal to accept suitable employment that can negate your ability to obtain workers’ compensation.
Are You Struggling to Figure Out Whether You Have to Return to Work Before Your Injuries Are Fully Healed? Allow Us to Help.
Trying to negotiate the date of your return to work after being injured can be very difficult. With the care of experienced attorneys, you can focus on ensuring that you have fully recovered while we focus on ensuring that you are not required to return to work prior to your injuries healing fully. The Miami workers’ compensation attorneys at Payer & Associates have significant experience helping people like you. Begin by contacting us today to schedule a free consultation.