A lot of people think a work injury can end one of two ways: either the worker fully recovers after getting adequate treatment, in which case they return to work as if nothing ever happened, or they are left disabled and cannot work again.
However, there is also a grey area where you may still be injured or sick, receiving treatment, and cleared for light duty. But what does this situation look like?
Here are the most important things you need to know about light duty:
Your Worker’s Comp Doctor Is the Only One Who Can Decide If You’re Clear for Light Duty
Both your employer and the insurance company would love it if all injured workers could get back to work as soon as possible, but that’s not always the case. Your worker’s comp doctor is the only one who can clear you for light-duty work, no matter the wishes of other parties.
However, since in Missouri the worker’s comp doctor is usually chosen by the insurance company, this can create a level of distrust between the patient and the doctor. If you suspect your worker’s comp doctor isn’t making the best decisions for you, speak with your workers’ comp attorney.
Light Duty Can Mean a Lot of Things
The term ‘light duty’ usually means you are allowed to work on a task that is less demanding physically or emotionally, depending on the nature of your injury. This, in practice, can take on a lot of different forms, such as taking inventory, supervising, or another desk job.
However, light-duty may not always be as light as your condition requires. Employers can push injured workers without even realizing it. Because they don’t have medical experience to understand what your condition involves, the modified work they offer may not be suitable. If the job they offer isn’t suitable, you should explain it to your employer.
It Will Affect Your Benefits
When you are cleared for light-duty, it can affect your payments for lost wages if you’re receiving your regular wage.
Workers comp covers two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but when you go back to work and your employer offers the same salary for the light-duty job, those payments stop. If your salary is lower, then you will receive two-thirds of the difference between what you were making pre-injury, and what you’re making on light duty.
Should You Speak With a Lawyer?
Worker’s comp cases can get pretty complicated at times, especially when it comes to light-duty that can affect your weekly payments. But light duty doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, so you should still be getting medical treatments as well. If you have been injured on the job, ensure your legal rights are protected right from the start of your claim. Give us a call 24/7 at (314) 361-4300 for a FREE consultation with an experienced workers comp attorney.