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Do I Have To Accept Light duty After a Work Accident?

Apr 26, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Light-duty After a Work Accident | Stewart & Stewart

If you suffer from a workplace injury or illness, workers’ compensation can help cover lost wages, but you may also have the option to return to work on light duty. Your employer may give you a light duty job offer after an accident to keep you in the workplace with a paycheck coming in. In general, you must accept light-duty offers granted that the work is reasonable in relationship to your injuries and doctor-mandated restrictions. 

What Is a Light Duty Job Offer?

A light duty reemployment offer allows you to return to your job doing less physically and mentally taxing work while recovering from a workplace injury. For example, if you work a physically demanding job that requires constant lifting, your employer may offer you a light duty job filing paperwork. 

Other examples of potential light duties include the following:

  • Taking inventories of products or supplies
  • Monitoring security cameras
  • Managing supply orders
  • Shredding documents
  • Inspecting safety systems
  • Running errands

The tasks your employer assigns should complement your skills and training and not contradict any restrictions outlined by the physician treating your injury. Your doctor decides whether or not to authorize your return to work on light duty. 

Do Employers Have to Offer Light-Duty Work?

Employers do not generally have to offer light-duty jobs to injured workers, especially if no light-duty positions exist that the employee has the skills to tackle. Your employer also may not offer light-duty if they don’t have any work that accommodates your physician-mandated restrictions. 

Examples of work restrictions a doctor may establish include the following:

  • Refrain from standing for extended periods.
  • Avoid bending, lifting, or squatting.
  • Do not lift or push heavy objects.
  • Avoid raising your arm above your shoulder.

Do Employees Have to Accept Light-Duty Offers?

If your employer makes you a light-duty job offer after an accident at work, in most cases you must accept, assuming your doctor has cleared you to do so. If you refuse a light-duty work offer, you may lose your job and possibly your workers’ compensation benefits. 

That said, it’s crucial to watch out for unreasonable requests from your employer. If a supervisor asks you to perform a job that goes against the work restrictions put in place by your physician, consider how you can set boundaries to ensure you continue to heal. If you encounter unreasonable requests consistently, you may speak with a personal injury attorney to help you solve the problem. 

Do Employees Make Less Money on Light Duty?

Whether or not your paycheck will change during a light-duty assignment depends on many factors, including whether you earn a salary, how many hours you work, your employer, and your state. For example, you may make the same money if you worked a salaried position before the accident, or your employer may pay you at a lower rate. 

Your wages may also change if you get paid hourly and cannot work your previous number of hours due to your injury or doctor restrictions. Discuss your light-duty wages with your employer for a clear answer to this question. 

Bring Your Workers’ Compensation Questions to Stewart & Stewart

Workers’ compensation law can be complex. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you work through a workers’ compensation claim. Whether you need help getting your promised benefits or your employer has asked you to perform unreasonable tasks for a light-duty job offer after an accident, the knowledgeable legal team at Stewart & Stewart Attorneys can help. 

We have experience with Indiana workers’ compensation cases and will ensure your rights remain protected. Call 317-537-9616 to discuss your case with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. 

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