What Does it Mean When an Injured Worker is Placed on “Light Duty?”

If you were recently involved in a construction accident in Albuquerque, NM and sustained an injury, you likely had to spend some time out of work while you recovered from the incident. But, after having some medical treatments rendered you may find that your doctor has informed you that you can now return to work, even if your injuries have not completely healed. Generally, when an injured worker hasn’t completely recovered from the injuries they sustained, but their treating physician believes their condition permits them to return to work and only perform light-duty tasks, they will permit them to do so.

While some employees might find it to be difficult to return to work under these circumstances, others look forward to getting back working as workers’ compensation benefits only pay a portion of their salary, and that may not be enough to cover their monthly bills. So, what exactly does it mean when a physician tells you that you can return to work on light duty? Essentially, your “treating doctor may recommend work restrictions, or limits, on the tasks done while recovering, so re-injury does not occur” [Source: State of New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration].

Now, it is important that your employer comply with these medical restrictions and not force you to complete tasks that go against the restrictions that have been given by your physician. Not only could it put you at risk of worsening the injury, but also putting you back out of work for a longer period of time. When the time does come for you to actually return to work on light duty, your employer may offer several job options. These options might include:

  1. Returning and completing your usual job. If the job you were doing prior to your injury does not require you to do any type of activity that goes against your doctor’s restrictions, then your employer may ask you to resume the position you held prior to your accident. The State of New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration says that your employer should “pay the same wages” and provide “the same benefits” as it did before the injury.
  1. Your employer may modify your job description. If the tasks you once completed would be strenuous to your body and go against your physician’s limitations, then your employer may modify your tasks so that you don’t put yourself at risk of causing your injury to worsen. For example, your doctor may limit you to the amount of time you can stand and require your employer to allow you to rest when feeling tired. If your doctor finds it necessary, they may require that your employer provide you with a stool or chair when you have reached your standing limit.
  1. Your employer may give you alternative work to do while on light duty. This work may be different from what your previous role required you to do, but it must not go against limitations your doctor stated when giving you permission to return back to work.

It is extremely important that during the time you are still recovering but are permitted to go back to work that you follow your physician’s instructions provided and “work hard at recovery.” Now, if you find that your employer isn’t treating you fairly or is refusing to abide by your doctor’s restrictions, then consider contacting Albuquerque, NM construction accident attorney Brian K. Branch. While most employers comply with the requirements the Workers’ Compensation Administration has set forth, not all do which leaves workers receiving less than they should in terms of compensation and sometimes, without a job.

Therefore, if you are dealing with any type of issue after engaging in a construction accident, contact the Law Office of Brian K. Branch today and let us explain what your legal rights are and how we can help you exercise them.


You can reach the Law Office of Brian K. Branch at:
715 Marquette Avenue NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
505-764-9710

By |2018-10-15T20:37:10+00:00October 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What Does it Mean When an Injured Worker is Placed on “Light Duty?”

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