Q: I collected Workers’ Compensation benefits for several months, then tried to go back to work. After a week I had to leave work due to my injury; I notified the insurance company. Do they have to resume my benefits?
Workers’ compensation in Las Vegas may seem straightforward, but once you find yourself needing compensation, things can get a bit difficult. Consider, for example, if you’ve been injured, get compensation, eventually return to work, but then have to leave again. Would an employer need to continue paying?
Returning to Work Before You’re Ready
This predicament helps to illustrate why you should never return to work before you’re absolutely ready. Sometimes, you may honestly believe you’re healed up enough to get back on the job, only to find out that this was a mistake.
However, no one can force you back to work. If your workers’ compensation claim is still open, Nevada’s Industrial Insurance Act maintains that you cannot be denied simply because you disagree with a medical professional who believes you’re healthy enough to start working again.
Should you find yourself in this situation—where a doctor is trying to get you back to work before you feel up to it—you can complain to your employer. They’ll be obligated to provide you with four new physicians to choose from for a second opinion.
Getting Injured After Returning to Work
Now, let’s say you’re confident that you can resume working in Las Vegas after your injury and decide to return. Then, perhaps a day or two later, the injury acts up again. It might cause you to, say, fall over for a second time or perhaps you can just feel pain from the first accident and know you won’t be able to continue on.
As you went back to work, your insurance company would have stopped paying you for lost wages (in most cases). Therefore, you’ll need to contact the insurance company to let them know that you’ve been forced off the job again because of the original injury.
Intermittent Lost Time
There’s another version of this scenario worth knowing about in Las Vegas. It’s called Intermittent Lost Time. Sometimes people have to leave work again after returning because their injury makes it impossible to get through the day.
Other times, though, someone simply needs extra breaks because of their injury. For example, if you shattered your foot while working at a factory, you may find it hard to stand for an entire shift. If an extra couple half-hour breaks are necessary, the insurance company should compensate you.
Likewise, you might need to leave work for an hour or so every week to get rehabilitation services. Once again, you have to be compensated for the wages you’ll lose because of this.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
Many of you will find that getting your Intermittent Lost Time covered won’t be much of a problem. You’ll call up your contact at the insurance company, they’ll bring up your file, note it and you’ll be good to go.
Obviously, this is ideal, but it doesn’t always happen that way. That’s why you want to document your communications with the insurance agency. Email them whenever possible, so there’s a paper trail you can refer back to in case your intermittent time gets denied.
As always, the only safe way to handle workers’ compensation matters is with a qualified attorney who understands Nevada’s Industrial Insurance Act and has represented people in your shoes before. Often, simply having representation will be enough to let insurance companies know they’re better off just granting your claim.