Managing the Costs of Workers’ Compensation Claims: Newton’s First Law of Motion and the Provision of Lightweight Services | Bricker & Eckler LLP

If an employee has been injured on the job, they will often not be able to return to their old position. Ohio workers’ compensation laws define an injured worker’s inability to return to their former job as temporary total disability (TTD). If this happens, the employee may be entitled to DTT compensation during their recovery period.

However, this can be very difficult for employers trying to maintain full operations or keep positions open until the employee returns – which can sometimes take much longer than expected. Newton’s first law of motion is that a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it. The same can be said of workers’ compensation claimants, and sometimes the employer has to be that “outside force.”

Light offers

An appropriate light duty job offer is a safe and strategic way to get an employee back to work while saving employers significantly on claims costs.

Ohio workers’ compensation laws provide that TTD compensation cannot be paid when work within the employee’s physical capabilities is provided by the same or a different employer. In other words, a light job offer can prevent or end TTD compensation – but it has to be done right.

That said, no light duty offering will do! An appropriate light duty offering should be:

  • made in good faith (many factors are considered here);
  • suitable employment (within the capabilities of the employee);
  • within a reasonable distance of the injured worker’s residence; and
  • in writing.

Another important step in creating an appropriate light duty offer is to have the offer approved by the attending physician. Although not mandatory, it can be very useful to prove that the offer was made in good faith. Whether an offer was made in good faith or suitable employment are the most problematic elements of the offer for employers and have led to countless disputes.

Ultimately, if an appropriate light duty offer is made and the employee refuses to return to work for reasons unrelated to the injury, then the employer may decide to terminate TTD benefits. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that light job offers are crafted carefully to ensure that they are considered valid.

If you are faced with a light duty situation, please contact your workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.

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