Five Things You Should Know About Changing Jobs While on Workers’ Compensation
If you do not know these five essential things about changing jobs while on workers’ compensation, you could lose your benefits and possibly get accused of committing workers’ compensation fraud. A job change while on workers’ compensation is not necessarily forbidden, but you should know about the implications beforehand. We understand the financial motivation to try to perform some type of work after suffering an on-the-job injury. That’s because workers’ compensation does not replace 100 percent of a person’s regular wages, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. You should consider discussing your case with a workers’ compensation lawyer from KJT Law Group. We can outline your options and manage your injury claim.
1. You Should Know What Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Could Collect
If you get a different job or continue working at your old job while recuperating from your workplace injury, you could still receive medical treatment for your condition through the workers’ compensation program. There are two primary components to workers’ compensation claims: two-thirds of your lost wages and medical expenses. Sometimes, an employer will continue to pay an employee’s full wages during their recuperation, particularly if the worker can still provide valuable services to the company. If you change jobs after a work injury, and you earn as much money at your new job as you did at your old job, you will not have lost wages, but you should still receive medical treatments through workers’ compensation.
2. You Could Take a Job With Different Duties Than Your Old One
The type of work you performed at each job will get examined in conjunction with the nature of your injuries. Let’s say that you worked as a roofer at a construction company when your foot got injured on the job. You could not climb on roofs to do your usual work until your foot healed.
You got a new job teaching roofing skills at a trade school. The new job did not require you to climb onto structures or be on your feet for long periods, so your doctor allowed you to perform the new job without restrictions. Here, you should have no problem changing jobs, although again, this could affect your eligibility to keep getting replacement wage benefits.
3. Getting a New Job Could Get Used Against You by Your Old Boss
Your old boss could report you for working a new job if the duties are similar to your old job, yet you are still collecting workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages.
Also, your old boss can demand that you return to work at your previous job if you can work at a new job that has similar tasks. You cannot refuse to return to a job that you can perform and continue to collect lost wages benefits.
Also, failing to report your wages from your new job could constitute workers’ compensation fraud. If you get convicted of insurance fraud, you could face criminal penalties, including incarceration for between one and five years and up to $150,000 in fines, or both jail time and a fine, under CA Ins Code § 1871.4.
4. You Should Talk With Your Treating Doctor About the New Job
Before changing jobs while collecting workers’ compensation benefits, you should talk to the physician treating your work-related injury. Get a detailed description of the new job and talk with your doctor about its duties before accepting the position.
Find out from your doctor if the new job might aggravate the existing injury or whether you will need to have accommodations, even temporary, to perform the new job. Let your new employer know about your existing injury and any accommodations your doctor recommends. One of the best ways to avoid problems with your workers’ compensation claim is to keep your current and former employer and your doctor informed.
It will help your defense if you get accused of workers’ compensation fraud, and you can show that you did not hide any of this information. Insurance fraud in California requires that a person knowingly made a false or fraudulent statement to get benefits they did not deserve. Transparency with all parties is your best friend in this situation.
5. Getting a New Job Could Decrease Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Your lost wages benefits depend on the income you miss when recuperating from an injury on the job. When you start drawing a paycheck at the new job, you will no longer be without income. You might qualify for some lost wages benefits from workers’ compensation if your new income is lower than you received at your previous job, but your new income could make you ineligible for wage replacement benefits.
Still, the workers’ compensation insurance from the job where you got hurt should continue providing your medical care until you fully recover, even if you no longer work for your previous employer. When you achieve maximum medical improvement (MMI), you might qualify for permanent disability benefits if you have a residual impairment.
You Should Consider Talking to a Lawyer About Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you’re thinking about changing jobs while on workers’ compensation, you could consider discussing your case with a lawyer. They can explain your options, represent you in all proceedings with your employer, and uphold your legal rights. As noted, getting a new job could make you ineligible for replacement wage benefits. So, if you rely on workers’ compensation benefits to make ends meet, you will want to prepare for this possibility. KJT Law Group advocates for injured claimants in Los Angeles. If you want to change jobs after suffering a workplace injury, call us to start a free consultation. There’s no obligation to partner with us, and we hope to put your worries to rest. Call (818) 507-8525 to start a free case review.