If you are injured on the job, you might be considering leaving your current employer and finding a new job. However, you also need to consider how this might affect your workers’ compensation claim.
Switching Jobs While Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Although workers’ compensation laws can be tricky, you have the legal right to switch jobs at any time, even if you are still collecting benefits from an injury.
If you are still recovering from your injury, you may need to seek a job with less risk. If you are going to make more money it may make great sense to leave your current job.
The first thing you should do is discuss the job with your potential new employer and find out all the details. You may need special accommodations. Ensure that your new employer is ready for that. After an injury, you may only be able to perform light-duty tasks or limited duty. Clear it with your workers’ compensation doctor first. Your doctor may impose some restrictions on you, such as lifting, bending, or standing limits which would put you at risk at the new job.
How Will My Benefits Be Affected?
Where it gets complicated is that if the workers’ compensation company feels that you are healthy enough to return to work in a normal capacity, you may lose your indemnity benefits. You will need to notify the workers’ compensation provider that you are taking a new job, what your duties will be, any restrictions, and how much you will be making. If you are earning more than 80% of your pre-accident wages, then you won’t be entitled to any lost wage benefits. You are still entitled to the medical benefits to treat your injuries.
The workers’ compensation company cannot terminate your benefits solely on the fact that you changed jobs. If you start a light-duty job with lesser pay, they cannot cancel your lost wage benefits, based on that either.
If your new job pays substantially less than your old one, you could still receive benefits to make up the difference for temporary benefits which are less than 80% of your preaccident wages. You remained entitled to see your workers’ compensation doctor(s) to continue to treat your injuries.
Another option is starting a different job with your existing employer. If your company has a light-duty position that you could perform while on recovery, that may not affect your lost wage benefits. However, keep in mind your employer is not obligated to offer you a light-duty position, so you may have to look elsewhere.
You also have the option of taking a lesser-paying part-time job that is light duty. If you return to work full-time or at full capacity, the workers’ compensation company would evaluate whether you are entitled to temporary lost wage benefits going forward.
Be careful not to take a job where you could be re-injured. Returning to work, even for light-duty, could affect your ability to heal properly. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Where to Turn for Help
If you have questions or a problem with your workers’ compensation case, contact Barry Stein today for a free consultation and help resolve your issue.