After you have been out of work because of a workplace injury, while you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you may be required to return to work in a light duty job if your doctor has placed restrictions on what you can do. Every time an employee is injured and files a workers’ compensation claim, it can increase the cost of their employer’s workers compensation premiums. The insurance company wants you to return to work as soon as possible so that they do not have to continue paying you the partial wage replacement benefits.
Your employer’s insurance company will ask you to participate in an IME (independent medical examination). The term, “IME” is a bit of a misnomer as there is nothing independent about the medical exam. The doctor is employed by the insurance company to examine you and confirm that you are ready to return to work. Depending on where you are in the healing process, they may send you back to work on light duty with restrictions on the kinds of work tasks you can perform, or they may say that you are fit to return to your previous work.
Is my employer required to offer me a light duty job?
While many employers will find some form of light duty for a recovering worker to perform until they can resume their previous tasks, they are not required to offer light duty work.
Can I refuse the offer of a light duty job?
If the company doctor has decided that you are well enough to go back to work with light duty restrictions, but you refuse the offer, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits.
How might a light or modified duty assignment affect my workers’ compensation benefits?
If the light duty assignment pays the same or more than the job you held when you were injured, you will no longer receive Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits. If the modified duty position pays less than your previous job, you will receive partial disability payments for your lost wages.
If your employer offers you a light duty job which does not violate your doctor’s restrictions, you should take the job or you may risk losing your workers’ compensation benefits. If your employer does not have a light duty or modified duty position available, you may continue to receive your workers’ compensation benefits.
What happens if you do not feel well or strong enough to return to work?
If the insurance company’s doctor and your employer’s insurance company both agree that you are fit to return to work, you can request a second medical opinion, but you will likely have to pay for it yourself. If you refuse to return the work, your employer could petition to have your benefits terminated.
If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits and you are facing a dispute with your employer’s insurer, you may want to discuss your case with a skilled Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer.
A Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer can represent you in any kind of workers’ compensation dispute. You are welcome to contact Larry Pitt & Associates at 888.PITT.LAW. We serve clients throughout Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.