Light Duty Restrictions: What Are Your Rights?

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In Ohio and elsewhere, workers’ compensation can be a complicated issue. When you’re injured at work, your injuries will be evaluated and classed as either permanent or partial and either temporary or permanent. If you have a temporary disability, your employer may offer you a “light duty” job so that you can return to work. That means they don’t have to pay workers’ comp, which saves them money, but some employers offer light duty jobs that don’t actually honor the rights of an injured worker. So, what are your rights?

Light Duty Restrictions

Because taking a light duty position means you’re no longer going to receive disability benefits, there are very strict requirements to make sure that position is fair and reasonable. In Ohio, that means:

  • the offer must be in good faith (it can’t be an offer for a job you know the employee won’t do)
  • the offer cannot require the employee to travel significantly farther for the light duty job than for their previous position
  • the offer must be in writing
  • the offer must clearly lay out the job description and requirements
  • the offer must comply with the restrictions caused by the employee’s injury (you can’t ask an employee with a broken leg a position that involves a lot of walking)

Ohio Admin.  Code §4121-3-32, 34(D)

If your employer follows all of those requirements and you refuse the light duty position, your disability benefits will be terminated. If your employer attempts to end your disability payments and the offer does not meet the legal requirements, on the other hand, you’ll have to fight to prove that the offer was invalid and that you’re still entitled to compensation.

Defending Your Light Duty Rights

So what can you do when you believe your employer is trying to unfairly cut off your benefits? The first step is filing a claim with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Remember that your employer is going to fight back – they don’t want to pay workers’ compensation. They’ll have legal representation and you’ll want to do the same. If your claim is denied by the Bureau, you can appeal it and have a formal hearing with the Industrial Commission. If they deny it, you may then appeal to the courts.

There are several ways to fight an improper light duty offer. First, you may show that you never received such an offer. You may also use your medical records to show that the offer doesn’t comply with your disabilities or that you are not capable of doing even light duty work. You may use your work and education history to show that the offer was not appropriate for your history and therefore not in good faith.

Have You Had Light Duty Troubles?

Injuries sustained at work are serious and you have the right to appropriate compensation and treatment from your employer. If they’re violating workers’ compensation laws, including trying to deny your compensation by offering an improper light duty position, it’s time to fight for your rights. Contact an experienced local workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible – you have a limited amount of time to file a claim and you don’t want to miss your opportunity.

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