Think about this – you spend about half of your waking life at work. And in this economy, maybe more. Depressing, I know, but hey, thank God for weekends. Since we are at work so much of the time, getting hurt “at work,” statistically, is more likely than we want to believe.
And the stakes are high these days after you are hurt on the job: nobody wants to lose their job. So folks try to suck it up and work through the pain, which is admirable. Hard work is a core American value.
But what happens when your workers’ comp doctor, in order to help you heal, gives you “light duty” work restrictions? (For example, don’t lift over 10 pounds). Well, your employer may want to move you out of your normal job position and have you do something lighter for a while, like deskwork or answering phones. Under North Carolina Workers’ Compensation laws, this “light duty” assignment in many cases is allowed, up to a point. There are laws in place in North Carolina that help ensure that you don’t end up doing a made-up “light duty” job indefinitely.
If your Workers’ Compensation injury has healed or stabilized and you can’t do your regular, normal job anymore, don’t get stuck in what I call “light duty limbo.” Sometimes, trying to stick it out in permanent light duty can lead you down the path to a pink slip. Co-workers and bosses might grow to resent an injured worker who isn’t doing his or her “normal job.” That’s just human nature. But that doesn’t have to happen. If you can’t do your normal job, you may be entitled to be out of work, drawing a workers’ compensation check, while you work on transitioning to a different job or career.
“Light duty” and its implications for the career and future of an injured worker is one of the more complex and nuanced areas of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law. Every situation is different. Get in touch with an experienced, careful workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your situation and how to avoid the pitfalls of “light duty limbo.”