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What Does Light Duty Mean for My Workers’ Comp Claim?

Posted in Work Injury, Worker's Compensation on July 3, 2023

There are times when individuals sustain workplace injuries and are unable to work until after they recover. However, it is not uncommon for individuals who are injured at work to return to some type of light duty activity on the job. Here, we want to discuss what light duty could mean for your workers’ compensation claim in Arizona.

Why Light Duty?

When a person is able to return to work after an injury, they may not be able to return to the full duties their job requires, at least not right away. There is not necessarily an “off switch” to when a person is finished with recovery. Typically, medical professionals like to ease individuals back into their daily routines, including work.

A doctor could allow an individual to return to work, but on a modified or late duty schedule. This is an alternative work assignment or an adjusted type of work that allows the individual to return to their employment but in a less demanding role. Light duty assignments can occur in a variety of ways, and examples include:

  • Reassignment to a different job (i.e., a police officer working a desk job until they can return to patrol)
  • Being excused from various strenuous activities (not having to lift heavy objects for a specific time frame)
  • Working a part-time schedule or a schedule that is less demanding
  • Making changes to the work environment to meet the employee’s medical needs

Regardless of what light duty actually looks like for an individual worker, it is important to remember that any injured employee in Arizona has the right to take the time that they need to recover from the injuries they sustained. Light duty assignments can help facilitate a return to the workplace, but no worker should be forced into light duty if they are not medically fit to do so.

All light duty assignments must be consistent with recommendations made by the medical professional.

Recovering Continued Compensation

Workers’ compensation benefits could continue even after a person returns to work on light duty. This will all depend on a few factors.

First, all workplace injury victims in Arizona will continue to receive medical coverage for their injuries until a doctor deems that they have reached maximum medical recovery (MMR). This is the point where individuals have recovered as much as possible, and further medical treatment will not help any additional recovery. If a person has returned to light duty work and has not yet reached MMR, they will continue to receive medical care benefits through workers’ compensation.

Additionally, if a workplace injury victim on late duty loses income because the light duty assignment leads to a lower pay rate, temporary disability benefits can help make up for this wage loss gap. Workers’ compensation will help pay for up to two-thirds of the difference between the original pay and the new temporary pay.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you have sustained a workplace injury and are going to work light duty, we encourage you to speak to your Phoenix worker’s compensation attorney about helping to ensure you continue receiving benefits. Unfortunately, insurance carriers and employers can put up challenges when it comes to continued workers’ compensation coverage, but an attorney can get involved and help stand up for your rights.