Job Offer After Injury at Work?

Date: September 9, 2015
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So you’re injured on the job in Pennsylvania. You report the injury, you get medical treatment and you start to receive your workers compensation benefit checks. Thankfully, your condition improves. Your doctor says that you can transition back to work with light duty work restrictions on a part-time basis. Your boss has been very supportive throughout this whole ordeal. He calls you and asks if you’d like to come back to work next Monday. He assures you that they will find a light duty job that accommodates your restrictions. What do you do next?

If you suffer a work injury in Pennsylvania, you employer can offer you a return to work. But first, there must be a medical opinion that your work-related medical condition has improved to the point where you can perform some level of work activity. Once there is a medical opinion that you are able to return to some level of work activity, the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act requires that a Notice of Ability to Return to Work form must be issued to an injured worker (the “claimant”) in a “prompt” fashion in order for an employer to offer a return to work at modified duty. However, the Act does not define what constitutes “prompt” written notice. Pennsylvania courts have held that the purpose of this statutory requirement is to provide notice to an injured worker that (1) there is medical evidence that the claimant can perform some work, (2) that benefits could be affected, and (3) that the claimant has an obligation to look for work. A claimant must have notice that her benefits could be affected before the employer makes a job offer. The Pa. appellate courts have thus determined that “prompt written notice” requires an employer to give a claimant notice of the medical evidence it has received within a reasonable time after its receipt lest the report itself becomes stale. It also requires an employer to give notice to the claimant a reasonable time before the employer acts upon the information. This necessarily requires an examination of the facts and timeline in each case to determine if the claimant has been prejudiced by the timing of the notice.

If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at tcummings@dlplaw.com or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.