What to Do When Offered “Light Duty” Work
Recovering from an injury is a slow process. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably has never been seriously injured. Suffering an injury involves damage and harm done to your body or mind, an impairment to your normal functioning. In other words, you can’t always do what you did before your injury. Seeking compensation from an employer (or their insurance company) is therefore an honest form of relief – a bargained for benefit, that in no way is something to be ashamed of – an honest injury demands honest relief. This is what drives the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. We want to see you protected and fairly compensated for the harm suffered in service of others.
Here are some helpful points to remember when successfully navigating the Minnesota workers’ compensation system:
Get everything in writing. When injured, the first step is to see a doctor right away. Make sure you have the doctor’s diagnosis and restrictions in writing. This allows you to have a physical copy showing what you can or cannot do, as declared by a medical professional. In other words, it carries weight.
Think before you act. Once an employer admits your injury claim, and then offers a job that is less physically demanding (or demanding in a different way), be aware of the potential consequences accepting the job could have on your workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, accepting the job is your duty under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act, because it is an offer of “gainful employment.” In other words, it would be a job for you to mitigate the effects of your injury. The tricky part is deciphering whether the offer of employment is suitable for you or not.
Possible examples of “unsuitable” gainful employment:
- It requires an employee to relocate: “Here is a light-duty job for you – it will require you to relocate to Duluth though.”
- It is outside your physical restrictions: “I know your physical restrictions don’t allow you to lift more than 45 lbs, but the boxes are only 48 lbs.”
- It requires a “substantial alteration” to your lifestyle: “I know you are used to a fast paced, exciting job, but sorting these papers (for 1/3 the pay) for 45 hours a week should work.”
- It requires you to move from day-time shifts to night-shifts: “I found a position for you from 10:00pm until 6:00am.”
What appears “right” isn’t always legally “right”. This is where the necessity of a knowledgeable attorney comes into play; someone who can assess what is “suitable” and what is not “suitable” gainful employment. An attorney can be useful in exposing the common strategy of employers, when faced with benefit claims, to offer highly undesirable positions in an effort to cause the employee to quit, and therefore cede one’s right to benefits. Don’t let it fool you.
Workers’ Compensation isn’t PERA. Understand the difference and get the necessary help. If you are a firefighter, policeman, corrections officer, or paramedic, remember accepting a light-duty position can negatively affect those benefits as well as your work comp benefits. That’s why working with an attorney at Meuser Law Office, P.A. can be invaluable – they are experts in both Minnesota workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS Duty Disability benefits.
Meuser Law Office, P.A. is one of the few workers’ compensation law firms in the state of Minnesota that also handles PERA and MSRS disability claims. We’ve successfully represented hundreds of police officers and firefighters throughout the state for both workers’ compensation and PERA/MSRS disability claims. Sitting down with us for a consultation to learn more about your potential claims is a lot like financial planning. We can explain what rights you have and make recommendations to you in terms of how to best protect your rights to those benefits. The knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. can help make the process easier. Contact us today for a free no obligation consultation.