The goal of the workers’ compensation system is to provide an alternate source of income while the worker gets healthy enough to return to work. However, sometimes an injury prevents a worker from being able to return to the same position or same pay level within a company, or other outside forces make it impossible to return to the same position.
In these instances, are you allowed to keep collecting workers’ compensation if you take a new job at the same company or a different role at a new company? We explain your rights after a work injury in the event you take on a new job.
Can’t Return To The Same Job After Work Injury
There are a number of different situations after a work injury that would lead to you taking on a new position. Here’s a closer look at some of those situations, and what options are available to you.
1. Your Company Can’t Accommodate Your Restrictions – A lot of companies have positions that are more physical than others, but not every company can accommodate workers who suffer injuries that leave them with physical limitations. If you work on a construction crew and can’t lift more than 10 pounds because of your injury, you may not be able to work for that employer any longer. In this instance, you would qualify for vocational rehabilitation, which involves retraining and job placement assistance, and you’d be able to collect wage loss benefits.
2. You’ve Been Laid Off Or Had Your Hours Reduced – An employer can’t fire you because of a work injury, but some of them may try to skirt the rules by reducing your hours or laying you off while still technically keeping you employed. You should consider hiring a lawyer to help determine your workers’ compensation, as this is calculated off of pre-injury work logs, not post-injury hour expectations, and because what your employer is doing may actually be illegal.
3. Your Employer Went Out Of Business – In rare instances, usually in smaller companies, your employer may not be able to survive a severe injury to an employee. If you can’t return to work after an injury because the company has gone out of business, you’re going to want to seek out vocational rehabilitation and wage loss benefits.
4. New Job, Worse Pay – Regardless of whether the company has moved you to a light duty role or you’ve sought employment elsewhere, if you are making less money than you were before your injury, you can file for wage loss benefits. Wage loss benefits will help offset the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury incomes.
5. New Job, Better Pay – Some people actually find that a work injury pushes them towards a new position or career, and sometimes that new job actually pays better than the old one. In this scenario, you would not be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits, but your medical coverage would stick with you. The original workers’ compensation insurer would still be responsible for reasonable, necessary and related medical expenses.