Light Duty Work Releases: Derailing the “Gravy Train”

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The stated goal of the Workers Compensation act is to return injured employees to work. Light duty work offers can prove quite useful in achieving this end when executed properly.   Unfortunately, however, this fairly complex process often doesn’t go as smoothly as intended. Whether it is procedural difficulties or a claimant conveniently finding a way to avoid missing their favorite episode of Cake Boss, there are numerous flaws in the process that can leave an employer footing the bill for much longer than is necessary.

To illustrate the difficulties presented with the “240 Procedure,” here is a streamlined version of how to get a claimant back to work according to OCGA §34-9-240 and State Board Rule 240:

  1. Obtain a release to work with restrictions from the authorized treating physician.
  2. Prepare a detailed job description that lists the specific tasks and activities to be performed by the employee.
  3. Send the job description to the authorized treating physician for approval.
  4. Prepare Board form WC-240 within 60 days of authorization of physician.
  5. Send the completed WC-240, via certified mail, with attachments, to the employee’s attorney, and to the employee at least 10 days before the employee is scheduled to return to work.
  6. File the Board form WC-240 with the State Board on the return to work date.
  7. Monitor the claimant to ensure the claimant has worked for more than 15 scheduled days.

What renders the whole shebang ineffective is the subjective nature of step seven. If at any point in that 15-day period the claimant determines that they feel incapable of performing the job assigned, they can simply report this, and benefits will re-commence. When this happens the burden of proving that the employee is in fact capable shifts to the employer. Clearly, this is no simple task and further begs the question, as a claimant, why hop off the gravy train when you’ve got a good thing going?

The answer, in short, is that there isn’t much of a reason in a lot of cases. The “240 Procedure” tips the scale in favor of the claimant. Fret not. The subjective nature of each case simply means that you need to retain an experienced firm that will evaluate your claims on a case-by-case basis. The personal attention that our firm provides proffers both an efficient and thorough investigative process, ensuring both a timely and cost effective resolution of claims. If you’ve got a claimant riding the proverbial gravy train, why not let us help derail it? After all, it’s better than funding a Monster Truck Theater marathon.