If an injured worker is released by her doctor to full duty work, with no restrictions, the employer can not only terminate Workers’ Compensation wage-loss benefits, they can also terminate the employee in Virginia — a “right to work” state.
On the other hand, if the injured worker has any restrictions by his or her doctor regarding pre-injury job duties, if the worker makes any less money, he or she can seek partial wage loss benefits.
Or if the worker is fired by the employer — other than for cause — he or she can seek full wage loss compensation. (Obviously, if an employee is fired for lying, cheating, or stealing, he or she would not be able to successfully collect weekly compensation benefits.)
Any work restrictions imposed by the employee’s doctor should be in writing and be reasonably precise.
For example, if a roofer injures her hand in a fall from a building, she may feel well enough to be placed in a cast after surgery. The employer’s nurse case manager, adjuster, and/or other representative may push the doctor to release this employee to go back to work, and she may even want to go back and rejoin her coworkers.
However, if the roofer is released to work with no restrictions, and the let go by the company, she would have no compensation benefits.
On the other hand, if the injured roofer’s doctor restricted her to working only on the ground, or limited her ladder-climbing or use of the injured arm, even though she could return to work in this limited capacity, she could earn wages and get partial wage loss benefits from the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance company.
Furthermore, the injured roofer would have the protection that if she was let go by the company, her lawyer could file an Application for complete wage loss benefits, as she had not been released to full, unrestricted duty work. If you or someone you know has been injured in an on-the-job accident and there are questions as to what laws apply, email or call Abrams Landau, Ltd. at once (703-796-9555).