What is light duty?
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. Usuually your doctor will say you can't lift over 20 pounds after a back injury or 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 shorter time? See how light duty can help you here.
But, what if your employer doesn't have light duty? What should you do? 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, you should be getting workers comp checks to make up the difference while you're on light duty.
Here's how it works: if you're making less money on light duty because you are working less hours or can't do overtime like you used to, your workers 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 it you're offered light work duty work within your restrictions and you turn it down, the workers comp insurance company can stop your benefits.
And 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 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.
Workers' comp check coming late? Click here to see what to do. We know that just because the workers' compensation check is late, it doesn't mean that you can pay your bills late, so here's the answer to another common question involving workers comp benefits and light duty.
Still not sure? It's a complicated and confusing system that favors insurance companies. Just call us at 202-393-3320. We make time to answer questions about work injuries in D.C. Maryland and Va every week and we'd love to hear from you.