The South Carolina workers’ compensation system is designed to provide workers and employees a way to meet their financial needs while they recover from work-related injuries and illnesses. However, workers’ comp benefits are not permanent, and the system only provides benefits until an injured employee returns to work.
Unfortunately, workers and medical providers often disagree regarding when a worker is fully healed and can return to work, or on whether restrictions should be placed on what work the recovering employee can perform. This may lead to employees returning to work on “light duty” or before they are fully healed.
If you feel you have not fully recovered, or if your employer does not want to accommodate a light duty employee, it may benefit you to consult with a dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer. Though workers’ compensation can be complicated, a dedicated attorney could answer any questions you may have about returning to work in Charleston after receiving workers’ comp benefits.
When Is It Best to Return to Work?
Ideally, a doctor should releases an employee back to work once they have fully healed. In all cases, a worker should return to work when they have reached maximum medical improvement.
The point of maximum medical improvement may be when a worker‘s condition is stable and is unlikely to worsen. However, this does not mean that an injury is completely healed. Instead, it merely means a doctor is no longer concerned that regular job functions would negatively impact an injury or condition.
Light Duty Explained
A worker on light duty may not be ready to perform all their job functions but can still perform some duties. This could include answering phones instead of moving equipment on a construction site or providing oversight instead of directly participating. Light duty employees must generally accept their status and return to work to the best of their abilities. Failing to do so could result in them losing any additional workers’ compensation benefits.
Supplemental Workers’ Compensation for Light Duty
If an employee has returned for light duty, their employer may wish to pay them at a reduced rate for their services. This may pose a problem for workers who have financial obligations to meet.
Thankfully, workers who return to work under these circumstances should be entitled to receive 66.6 percent of the difference of their average and new hourly wage. Those who have returned to work on light duty may wish to consult with a lawyer to better understand their rights and any benefits they may be entitled to after returning to work in Charleston.
Protecting Your Benefits After Coming Back to Work in Charleston
A qualified workers’ compensation lawyer could serve as a legal ally through the workers’ compensation process and advocate on your behalf. They could also help collect evidence and reports to support a claim, ensure that fair payments are received on time, and help you present a convincing claim before the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. This may help you appeal decisions and ensure you receive proper and fair benefits following your workplace accident.
When returning to work in Charleston after an injury, employers and their insurance providers could challenge your injury claim, deny certain benefits, or argue about the amount of compensation you should receive. Fortunately, you do not have to handle this alone. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and start exploring what may be possible in your situation.