State law requires employers to provide no-fault workers’ comp coverage (California Labor Code § 3700). Through a workers’ comp claim, an employer can get benefits to cover their medical care and support them during the time that they need to take off to recover from their injury or illness.
Most people want to get back to the job as soon as they can. That being said, you may not be able to safely return to your previous job duties. A “light duty” or “modified duty” assignment helps to address this issue.
Here, our Fresno workers’ compensation lawyer explains the key things that you should know about who decides what types of light and/or modified duty medical restrictions are appropriate in California.
As a starting point, it is important to understand what light duty/modified duty work is in California. Broadly speaking, these terms are used to describe any temporary adjustment to an employee’s job role or job duties while they recover from their injury.
In some cases, a light duty assignment could be a major change. For example, an employee seriously injured on a construction site may be able to return to an office-only position for several months. On the other hand, a light duty assignment can also be a far more modest change. For example, an employee in a manufacturing plant may be restricted from lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds.
Ultimately, a light duty or modified duty assignment is not any “one thing.” Instead, it is a change made for a specific worker in order to ensure that they can safely perform their job duties in accordance with any medical restrictions or medical limitations related to their work injury.
Your Medical Restrictions Come From Your Treating Physician
Light duty/modified duty assignments exist to help injured employees smoothly return to the workplace without putting their health, safety, and well-being in jeopardy. A light assignment must conform to an individual’s worker’s actual medical restrictions/medical limitations. Where do those medical restrictions come from?
- In California, an injured worker’s medical restrictions are determined by the treating physician. The doctor will determine what is appropriate given the worker’s actual medical condition.
If your employer fails to provide a light duty or alternative work assignment that conforms completely to your medical restrictions, then you are not required to return to work. You are entitled to take additional time to recover from your injury, illness, or impairment. If a dispute arises over medical limitations, an independent medical evaluation (IME) may be needed.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is an experienced, reliable workers’ compensation lawyer. If you have specific questions about light duty, modified duty, or medical restrictions in general, we are here as a resource. Contact us now for a confidential appointment with a lawyer. We represent injured workers in Fresno and throughout all of the San Joaquin Valley.