Do I have to return to work if my employer offers modified duty in a work comp case? Maybe, the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Rules provide Guidance.
If you have been injured at work, your employer may offer you modified duty or a return to work with restrictions. While Colorado workers’ compensation laws do not require an employer to hold your job open while you recover from your injuries, your employer may request you return to work under “light duty” work. Provided modified duty is offered, you may be required to accept the position, or the employer will terminate your bi-weekly wage payment (temporary total disability). Once respondents have admitted liability for TTD benefits, those benefits must continue until terminated in accordance with the statute or the applicable rules of procedure, and unilateral terminations are considered unlawful. Monfort Transportation v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office, 942 P.2d 1358 (Colo. App. 1997 ).
Under C.R.S. 8-42-105, temporary total disability benefits shall continue until the first occurrence of any one of the following:
- The employee reaches maximum medical improvement;
- The employee returns to regular or modified employment;
- The attending physician gives the employee a written release to return to regular employment;
- The attending physician gives the employee a written release to return to modified employment, such employment is offered to the employee in writing, and the employee fails to begin such employment.
W.C.R.P. 6 requires the offer to be accompanied by: a medical report from an authorized treating physician and a copy of a written offer delivered to the with a signed certificate of service, containing both an offer of modified employment, setting forth duties, wages, and hours and a statement from an authorized treating physician that the employment offered is within the claimant’s physical restrictions. If your authorized treating physician gives the employee a written release to return to modified employment.
Additionally, C.R.S. 8-42-105 provides a rejection of the offer of modified employment is deemed reasonable considering the totality of the claimant’s circumstances, accounting for:
- The consequences of the industrial injury;
- the financial hardship that would be imposed on the claimant in order to accept the offer of modified employment;
- or any other reasons that would, in the opinion of the administrative law judge, make it impracticable for the claimant to accept the offer of modified employment;
Whether an offer of modified employment is “reasonable” given the totality of circumstances is often the subject of litigation. An unreasonable offer may include increased financial obligations collateral to the substitute position, increased travel distances, medical restrictions, or other changes like a material change in working conditions or hours.
When your employer offers modified duty in a workers’ compensation case, you should consult with an experienced Denver workers’ compensation lawyer to negotiate with your physician and employer and, if necessary, request a hearing in the Office of Administrative Courts to preserve your rights to your weekly wage replacement.
Mandelaris Law, LLC has the resources to deal with workers’ compensation accident cases and the skills to deal with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to ensure full compensation for your accident-related losses. Call (303)357-9757 to speak with an attorney free of charge today.