What It Means When Your Doctor Releases You for “Light Duty” After a Work Injury

A work injury prescribed for light duty means you can go back to work. Whether your former employer will make a job available for you may be an issue, and you might want a Richmond Workers’ Compensation attorney to investigate the situation.

Dilemmas for a Work Injury Assigned Light Duty

When a doctor releases you for light duty, it can be a good thing. This means your injury is not debilitating and you also may have a positive prognosis for a full recovery.

Your former employer may have a job that fits this criterion or may even modify your former work situation so you can do a limited amount of work. If you do return to your previous employer, make sure they know about the restrictions your doctor has put on you, like no standing for extended periods of time.

A light duty assignment usually means a worker will be paid less than what they earned in their former position. Workers’ Compensation is relied upon to the pay the difference. Unfortunately, many employers will deny having any light duty assignments available so they do not have to pay either wages or Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Sometimes, when your workers’ compensation doctor has you out of work, the employer, adjuster or the nurse case manager (NCM) will contact the doctor who has you out of work and convince him to let you work a light duty job.  Sadly, this often happens without you knowing anything about it!

Note: If you are released to light duty, you must immediately register with the Virginia Employment Commission.  You are also required to look for light duty employment within your doctor’s restrictions.  You will need to file applications for employment with a minimum of two (2) potential employers each week, keeping a written record of the names of the business, the date of contact, and the type of position for which you applied.

If your doctor has given you a note that says you are not to be working and then you get a call about returning to work, you need to contact your doctor IMMEDIATELY to get some clarity on what your true work status really is.

If the doctor has changed your out of work note to state that you can work light duty (this does happen often), you need to get a copy of this so you have a full understanding of what it is you can and can’t do and to confirm that you are to return to work on a light duty status.  The other reason to contact the doctor immediately is because if you truly have been given a light duty release and do not return to work, your benefits could be terminated and you could lose your job for job abandonment – this is a HUGE mess for injured workers and should be avoided if at all possible!