Do I have an obligation to look for work after being hurt on the job?

If your treating doctor releases you to return to light duty after a work-related injury, and your employer cannot offer you light duty work, you are obligated to look for work within your physical restrictions. This is referred to as “marketing” or “job search efforts”. Failure to adequately search for light duty work will jeopardize your entitlement to continued wage loss benefits.

woman drinking coffee and job searching

The requirement to look for light duty work generally arises when the workers’ compensation insurance company voluntarily pays you wage loss benefits without an open award, or you have filed a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and are waiting for your case to be heard. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has adopted guidelines for good faith searches for light duty work.

When reviewing an injured worker’s job search efforts, the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Commission will generally consider the following factors:

  1. the nature and extent of the disability
  2. the employee’s training, age, experience and education
  3. the nature and extent of the job search
  4. the availability of jobs in the area suitable for the employee considering his/her disability
  5. any other matter affecting the employee’s capacity to find work.

What qualifies as searching for light duty work?

Evidence of reasonable effort to find light duty work is presumed when the injured worker has registered with the Virginia Employment Commission, directly contacted at least 5 potential employers per week, and contacted the pre-injury employer regarding a light duty job. So, the bare minimum number of jobs that an injured employee should look for each week is 5.  I tell my clients to make an effort to contact at least 10 potential employees each week so that more than a minimal effort is made.

How do I track my job searching?

It is also important that you keep a job search log to document your efforts to find light duty work. This log should include the name of the potential employer, where the employer is located, the job applied for, the date the application was made, and whether the contact was made in-person, over the telephone, or via the internet. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission provides job search forms that may be used to log your job search efforts.

When looking for light duty work, it is important to remember to only apply for jobs that fall within the physical restrictions placed upon you by your treating doctor. You must also only apply jobs for which you are reasonably qualified. Otherwise, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission may find that your marketing efforts have been insufficient and suspend your wage loss benefits.

As you apply for jobs, you should regularly turn your job search logs over to your attorney so that they can be submitted to the insurance company or their lawyer. By providing these logs, you provide proof that you are making adequate efforts to look for work and that you are entitled to a continuation of your wage loss benefits.

If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, contact us through our online form or call us at 1-800-768-2222. We are here to help.