Light-Duty Work Restrictions and Workers’ Compensation
When work-related accidents happen, they can be devastating. This doesn’t include just the physical injury because it often overflows into our financial situations and our relationships. Tension and strain can be even higher if the injury causes even a temporary disability, or light-duty work restrictions that your employer won’t comply with. You may end up needing to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Alpharetta.
After an accident in the workplace, the injured employee is required to file a claim and see a workers’ compensation sanctioned physician. This is statute O.C.G.A. § 34-9-202 under Georgia law concerning workers’ compensation.
Part of this statute also states that the injured employee must attend all appointments set by this physician and submit to all tests pertaining to the work-related injury. This can be frustrating for some people. If the injured employee is unable to drive it falls upon someone else to make sure they get to every appointment, this can strain personal relationships.
Once the initial form has been completed by the physician and the terms of the compensation have been determined, it is important that any follow-up requested by the doctor is attended because when the injured employee does not uphold this part of their obligation, they could possibly lose their benefits.
The point of the periodical checkups is to determine if the injury has improved and if the employee can return back to work in any capacity. Often times an employee can be released to work on light-duty restrictions. Light-duty jobs are generally tailored to work around the employee’s injury.
They will still receive benefits from workers’ compensation, although they will be drastically reduced. Medical bill payments will still be covered as well as any rehabilitation services that the employee requires from the accident.
The entire workers’ compensation process can be extremely confusing, especially if this is the first time you have ever had to file a claim. Thank goodness for qualified Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers who can see you through the process from start to finish.
Refusal of Light-Duty Work Restrictions
When a doctor has determined the injured worker has healed well enough to return to work under light-duty, the employer must make sufficient means to accommodate this. It is also the responsibility of the employee to make a valid effort to complete these light-duty tasks assigned.
If an employer offers the injured employee a sufficient position that enables them to return to work and the employee refuses these tasks, it is within the right of the board to withdraw their workers’ compensation benefits.
The only time this will not happen with a total refusal is if the employee makes a justifiable case as to why they cannot return, and the board accepts it.
If the employee chooses to attempt the light-duty position for 8 hours but is unable to perform the job for more than a time period of 15 days, their weekly benefits will be reinstated unless the employer finds justifiable cause that they should not receive them.
If the employee chooses to attempt the light-duty position for less than 8 hours or refuses to attempt it, then the employer may file a form with the board along with supporting release documentation that suspends benefits. At this point, it will fall upon the employee to prove that they should still be entitled to benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Modifications
The implementation of workers’ compensation benefits is to benefit an injured worker while they are unable to work. It is not a means of income indefinitely unless they have been injured to the point that they are disabled and at that point, they can file for other forms of income like Social Security benefits.
The evaluation of your workers’ compensation doctor will be a requirement through this process. If the injured worker decides at any point that they are finished with the situation and want to seek a job elsewhere, they do have the right to do that.
Workers’ compensation will pay for the medical debt that was incurred from the injury in their workplace, but the injured worker will lose the supplemental income. It is important to keep in mind that if an injured employee is still on restrictive duty, a new employer may not honor that.
If the employee gets injured at the new employer because of the previously existing injury from a prior workers’ compensation claim that was never completed, they may be held liable for payment of the most recent injury.
Deciding to stop workers’ compensation benefits on your own is a big decision to make. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Get a free consultation from a workers’ compensation attorney in Georgia to understand all the implications and to decide if it is right for you.
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