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What If My Company Doesn’t Have Light Duty Work For Me?


What Is Light Duty When You’re On Workers’ Comp in DC, Maryland, Or Virginia?

Before going back to work, the doctor can put you on light duty. Basically, he gives you restrictions that say you can do some activities, but not everything your job requires. Usually, your doctor will say you can’t lift over 20 pounds after a back injury, no overhead work after a torn rotator cuff surgery, or no climbing ladders after a knee surgery. If you have any type of restriction from your work injury that prevents you from doing your regular job, and your company offers you work within those restrictions, that’s light duty.

Did you know that sometimes light duty can actually help you recover more quickly, and get you back to work in a shorter time? Every injured worker needs to make sure they stay informed about their light duty position and the worker’s compensation process.

What Is Light Duty Work After A Work Injury?

Remember, light duty means that you’re at work performing some duties (not the full duties of your job) and you are being paid accordingly. Also, remember, if you are earning less money than you were at the time you got hurt (and that’s per week, not just your hourly rate) you should be getting workers comp checks to make up the difference while you’re on light duty.

The Simple Way To Calculate Your Worker’s Comp Benefits:

If you are getting paid the same per week (with overtime and bonuses calculated for your weekly wage) you will get a paycheck from your company again and you won’t get any further workers’ compensation benefits.

If you’re making less money on light duty because you are working fewer hours or can’t do overtime like you used to, your worker’s comp benefits would be 2/3 of the difference between your wages at the time you got hurt and the new light-duty job. These benefits are called Temporary Partial Disability benefits.

Light duty doesn’t stop you from getting your disability benefits, but if you’re offered light work duty work within your restrictions and you turn it down, the worker’s comp insurance company can stop or reduce your benefits. (And you should bet they will).

But, What Should You Do If Your Employer Doesn’t Offer Light Duty?

If your company doesn’t offer light duty work, they have to continue to pay your full workers’ compensation rate.

Many construction companies do not have a light duty in the trade. So, even though a doctor may say you can return to some work with restrictions until you are cleared to return to full duty, your workers’ comp benefits should continue at the full rate. So it is really important to get a note or disability slip from your doctor indicating any restrictions or limitations you have because of the work injury.

Your Benefits Checks Should Be Coming On a Regular Basis

If your worker’s compensation benefits checks are not arriving at the same time every time (or if they stop altogether), you need to speak we our experienced worker’s compensation attorneys right away. We know that just because the workers’ compensation check is late, it doesn’t mean that you can pay your bills late. Even with a serious, legitimate work injury, the worker’s comp system is an uphill battle – and you’re standing at the bottom of the hill. Many workers have problems getting their compensation checks delivered consistently – they are often one, two, three days, or even a week late. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact us today at 202-393-3320.

Speak To An Experienced Workers Compensation Lawyer

You’re probably under a lot of stress due to the uncertainty – most people are – because how can you know what or how much you should be getting, how to get the best medical care for your injuries, or what type of benefits you can get in the future? Don’t worry – we help you with all that. So just call us at 202-393-3320 and you will speak with a real person who wants to hear your story. We make time to answer questions about work injuries in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia every week and we’d love to hear from you.

What To Do Before Filing For Long-Term Disability

First and foremost, get a copy of your long-term disability policy from your employer. It’s critical that you understand the definitions, terms, and conditions in that policy before filing your claim for long-term disability benefits.

Get a complete copy of your medical records from your physicians. Some doctor’s offices will give you only the physician notes or reports, some will charge you or have some copy service charge you for this, and some staff members don’t want to deal with it. But whatever the situation, be assertive in getting everything in your medical chart – office notes, labs, orders, prescriptions, referrals, etc. You need to see these before the disability insurance company does, and you have to know what your doctors are saying about your condition or injury and your ability to work before you file for long-term disability benefits.

You’re injury or condition is legitimate – you’re not trying to hide anything. But remember, the insurance company is going to do everything they can to deny or stop your disability benefits, and construe everything that isn’t 100% clear in their favor.

Review Your Medical Records Before You File Your Claim

You would be surprised at how many people don’t review their medical records.

There could be a mistake in the records (this happens frequently, and with electronic medical records and auto-fill on the computer, the mistake gets automatically repeated in every office visit). Examples of common mistakes we see in medical records could be what job you hold and the physical aspects of the job, how long you’ve had the injury or condition, what caused it, and what your limitations really are.

Your doctor may not know what “disability” really means under your long-term disability insurance policy – in other words as it is defined in your specific policy – not the common, dictionary, or medical definition. Remember, it is your job to educate your doctor regarding the terms and conditions of your policy! We do this for our clients and we work with physicians, experts, and consultants all the time.

The records may not be complete – there are visits, labs, tests, etc. that are not in your medical chart.

Your doctor may not be a specialist or doesn’t have specific expertise with your specific injury or condition and some of his notes could be misinterpreted by the insurance company. It’s not that he doesn’t understand your condition and that you can’t work, but that his notes are vague, general, or not very specific.

Long-term disability insurance companies will try to use your medical records against you.

Keep in mind that none of this really matters as far as your medical treatment goes – and that is what your doctor is focused on. Many doctors are squeezed by health insurance reimbursements and view documentation as one more thing they have to do – but it’s critical for your long-term disability claim. Obviously, you want a copy of your records so you can identify if you have any of these issues before you file your claim, and so you can take steps to correct them by talking to the doctor, getting a follow-up exam, and a second opinion, etc.

In every case, the disability insurance company will review these records closely, looking for everything they can (any mistakes, inconsistencies, omissions, etc.) they can use to deny benefits. The insurance company will have their own medical consultants and experts review your records – and you can bet they are trained to look for every inconsistency, mistake, or anything that is vague or doesn’t specifically describe your injury, condition, and inability to work. Your medical condition and inability to work are real and legitimate, so make sure your medical records are good enough to satisfy the insurance company under the policy and qualify for benefits.

Our Experienced Long-Term Disability Attorneys Can Help​

If you don’t understand your long-term disability insurance policy or don’t review your medical records and just send them to the insurance company, you may set yourself up for a denial of your claim – that’s what your long-term disability insurance company is hoping for. Our experienced long-term disability lawyers can guide you through the process so you can get your case off on the right track and avoid having your claim denied.

If you want more information on how to prepare for your ERISA long-term disability claim, or want to talk it through, call us at (202) 393-3320 or chat with someone right now. We make it easy to get started. And we give you a plan.

After suffering an injury on the job, you may or may not be able to return to work. While some people may take months or years to heal, others with permanent injuries may never return to work. If you can go back to work but can’t return to your normal job, you may have heard the term ‘light duty’ and are probably wondering how it relates to you.

After suffering a serious workplace injury, you probably have certain physical restrictions. For example, you may only be able to lift a certain amount of weight, or you might not be able to sit or stand for too long periods. If those restrictions prevent you from doing your regular job, your employer can offer you light-duty job assignments with your regular wages. However, if your employer doesn’t have a transitional job or light duty work for you, then your workers’ compensation benefits will continue until you can go back to your regular position.

As workers’ compensation attorneys, Donahoe Kearney will answer your light duty and other workers’ comp questions. Contact our Washington D.C. office today for more information at 202.393.3320 or online at https://www.donahoekearney.com/contact.cfm.

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    Mr. Kearney and Mr. Donahoe were excellent attorneys. They were very caring toward my son and myself. They always explained everything in detail and kept in touch with us, updating us about the case. Whenever we would call or needed a question answered, Mr. Kearney or his assistant was always there to help. My son and I are very happy and satisfied with the outcome of the case. Mr. Kearney and Mr. Donahoe were the best and I would highly recommend them to other people.

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    After A Successful Settlement, a Severely Injured Young Man Now Has the Resources to Live Independently

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    Mr. Kearney and Mr. Donahoe were excellent attorneys. They were very caring toward my son and myself. They always explained everything in detail and kept in touch with us, updating us about the case. Whenever we would call or needed a question answered, Mr. Kearney or his assistant was always there to help. My son and I are very happy and satisfied with the outcome of the case. Mr. Kearney and Mr. Donahoe were the best and I would highly recommend them to other people.

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