Question: I live in Iowa and have been on workers compensation for almost a year. I have a failed back surgery and am receiving injections and medication to help with the pain. The doctor told me at the last visit that he would likely put me on light duty at the next visit. That might be a problem for me because the employer doesn't have any light duty work. The nurse case manager is pushing the doctor to release me. And at the last doctor visit told me the insurance company is trying to find me a job. She told me about a few, but they don’t seem to be jobs that I would want to do or that pay as much as I was earning. I’m confused about what the law requires me to do. Do I have to accept one of these jobs? Is this legal and can I refuse their offers? And what if the doctor releases me to light duty but no light duty is available? Will the insurance company stop my weekly checks?
Injured? Job offer after light duty? Do you have to accept it? Probably not, but most clients do have to work. Being injured is hardly ever excuse to never work again.
Answer: Oh boy, lots of questions for this short Q&A format. I’ll pick and choose the more important ones and you can either call me for an appointment or find a lawyer closer to your home.
Let me see if I can help give you some direction. I think what you are asking me is whether or not you will lose your weekly indemnity benefits if you refuse work directed to you by an insurance company that insurers the employer. You have the right to refuse any work, but if you do, it may reduce the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive. And it can provide the insurer with a reason to stop paying weekly indemnity benefits. They may not but you may be spending your permanency benefits rather than working and saving them for a rainy day.
Should you accept a different job or other work with this same employer? It all depends on the work offered versus the job you had at the time of the original injury. Here are some rules that will help you decide.
5 Easy Rules to Remember - Job Offers After an Injury
- You will need to work to earn a living.
- The doctor’s restrictions are recommendations not iron-clad rules.
- You should not do work that is hurting you.
- If the job you eventually find pays less, offers fewer hours to work and fewer benefits then these facts should increase the amount of your permanency benefits.
- Get legal advice from a lawyer who practices in this area.
Your claim is a good (failed back surgery) and worth a lot more than you will likely ever appreciate. Go find a lawyer and stop playing lawyer. Good luck.