3 Facts to Know About Light Duty After a Work Injury in D.C.

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Sometimes, injuries heal more slowly than you'd like. After a serious work injury, it's hard to know when you'll be able to return to your normal duties at work. But, when the doctor gives you the go ahead to return to work after knowing what your job description calls for, it's best to follow that advice. In fact, DC workers' compensation won't pay you unless you go to the doctor and the doctor indicates you cannot return to your regular job. Sometimes the doctor will give you work restrictions or say you can work with limitations.  Usually that is called light duty work.

So, you're back at work and on light duty...what do you do now? Here are 3 Things You Should Know:

1) What is light duty? 

If you've had a workers' compensation claim, you've probably heard of the term light duty. Light duty is a way for your job to give you tasks that are physically and/or mentally less demanding than your normal job duties while you're recovering from your injuries. In other words, employers will excuse you from some of the duties of your normal job, giving you a 'lighter' duty at work. For example: your doctor restricts you to only lifting 10 pounds but your regular job requires you to lift 50.  Your job needs to find something for you to do that doesn't require lifting over 10 pounds.

2) Does light duty help?

Sometimes workplace injuries involve emotional distress along with physical injuries (or even without any physical injury).  It's tough to be off work while your injuries are healing.  Being around the same environment and being able to contribute to the team is crucial, and it can mean all the difference in the world in your recovery. 

3) Do I have to show up for light duty?

Yes, you do. If you don't show up for your light duty, your job may have the ability to fire you. Remember, 'light duty' still means that you are able to do some work, just not your normal job. And, if your doctor releases you to light duty and you refuse to comply, your workers' comepnsation benefits will be stopped. 

4) BONUS - Light Duty Attorneys

To protect your rights in the workplace, you need all the information you can get and an experienced attorney who knows the law and how it changes. And, you can start here. With informational materials, like our popular Protect Your Rights book on everything you need to know about DC workers' comp, you can begin today. You can also give us a call at 202-393-3320 for particular legal advice that can get you on the road to recovery.


Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer
Hi, I had knee surgery next year Oct 25 and my doctor returned me back to work Jan 1, 2020. I work as a Security Officer in a hospital. My doctor had restricted on walking and every two hours I must elevate my leg. I have been working till I got message by voice and text to call HR Feb 7 told me that I can't come to work because I cannot do patient care and I am wearing knee brace. She was not sure this will any problem she needs to check with infection control department to clarify it. I just want to know HR department can do this. Please advise. Thank you Sashi Lata.
by Sashi Lata February 10, 2020 at 12:04 PM
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