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Do You Risk Losing Workers’ Compensation Benefits by Refusing Light-Duty Work?

If you are a Virginian who was injured at work or suffered an occupational disease and were awarded workers’ compensation benefits, can you count on receiving your benefits until you recover or retire from the work force? The short answer is not necessarily. Your employer can lawfully insist that you look for a job or even offer you a job that you can do despite your work-related injury. This is known as selective employment — or “light-duty work” — and you might need to take the job or risk losing all or part of your benefits.

However, the selective-employment requirement is not ironclad and there are ways to challenge it. To begin with, the job offer must be made in good faith. Your employer must give you adequate notice that the job is available and that it is consistent with your work-related disability. The offer is not in good faith if your disability prevents you from doing the job.

You might have a justifiable reason for refusing selective employment — for instance, if taking the job would violate your religious beliefs. You might also be justified in refusing the offer for economic reasons unrelated to your disability, such as if the job would require you to relocate or commute an unreasonable distance.

Furthermore, you might be able to refuse selective employment because you have another disability that arose from your work but wasn’t previously addressed in a workers’ compensation claim. If the selective employment doesn’t match this other work-related disability, your refusal to accept the job may be justified. Even if your refusal to accept selective employment is unjustified, you might be able to cure the refusal by finding a comparable position on your own.

Fortunately, a workers’ compensation attorney may be able to solve this conundrum for you, helping you maximize your chances of avoiding a partial or total loss of your benefits.

At Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C. in Charlottesville, Virginia, our lawyers and staff will give you the caring, personal attention you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 434-973-7474 or contact us online.

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