Are My Workers’ Comp Benefits at Risk If I Refuse Light-Duty Work?

injured worker sitting at deskIf you are protected by workers’ compensation through your employer, then you are likely eligible to receive benefits for injuries that happen on the job. However, what happens if your employer offers you light-duty work while you are still recovering at home and you refuse? Can you lose your benefits?

Greg Coleman Law explains more about light-duty work, including when it may be offered, when you can refuse the offer and what precautions you should take to protect your health before heading back to work.

If you were injured on the job and need help with your claim, we offer a completely free, no-obligation consultation to help you determine when it may be time to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.

When is Light-Duty Work Offered?

After recovering from a work-related injury, your doctor may tell you that you have reached maximum medical improvement or recovered well enough to begin to ease back into work. Depending on the severity of your injuries, this release to return to work may often include certain restrictions that are important to follow to avoid negatively impacting the healing process. 

These restrictions could include information about:

  • The type of work you can do
  • The number of hours you can work
  • The maximum weight you can safely lift while working
  • How long you can stand or sit without discomfort or pain
  • Whether you need to take periodic breaks to minimize discomfort

Do I Have to Accept Light-Duty Work?

It is worth mentioning that your employer is neither required to hold your job nor offer you light-duty work. However, if he or she extends an offer to you that falls within your doctor’s directed restrictions, then you must accept the offer or risk losing your benefits.

If your employer offers you light-duty work that is clearly in violation of your doctor’s ordered restrictions then you may be able to remain off work and continue to receive your benefits.

Protecting Your Health

Returning to work too soon can have a negative impact on the healing process, increase the risk of getting reinjured or even make your existing injuries worse.

It is important to remember that while you are out on workers’ compensation, it costs your employer and your insurance carrier money. Therefore, it is in their best interest financially to get you back to work sooner.

You may need to get help from an attorney if:

  • You are feeling pressure from your employer to get back to work before you are ready, in spite of taking appropriate steps to seek medical care, follow your care plan and follow-up with your doctor
  • Your benefits are halted because you refused a light-duty job offered by your employer – and the job offered was in violation of the restrictions set forth by your doctor
  • Your workers’ comp claim was denied and you have not received any benefits

Your Responsibility

Although your employer cannot require you to return to a position that is in violation of your doctor’s instructions, it is still your responsibility to keep him or her informed about the status of your recovery. You also benefit from staying in touch with your employer, because it shows him or her that you are eager to get back to work even if your injuries have not yet fully healed enough to do so.

When You Should Seek Legal Help

If your employer or insurance carrier is pressuring you to return to light-duty work that is in violation of the restrictions your doctor has provided to you, then we urge you to seek legal help straight away. Returning to work under pressure may result in you suffering further injury.

At Greg Coleman Law, our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in Knoxville are prepared to advocate on your behalf to protect your legal rights. When you take advantage of our free initial consultation, we can help determine what potential legal steps you may be able to take, and we can also answer your questions. There is no obligation to hire our firm after this meeting, and if we do represent you, there are no upfront fees or other costs to pay. We only get paid if you do.

Experienced workers' compensation lawyers. Ph: (865) 247-0080