Lionel injured his left arm while lifting heavy widgets at work with his employer, XYZ Manufacturing Company. The employer acknowledged the injury and began paying Lionel workers compensation wage loss benefits as Lionel was unable to work. Fortunately, Lionel received excellent medical care and was released to return to work without restriction by his doctor about six months after the injury occurred. At that time, his wage loss benefits were suspended. Before the injury, Lionel worked second shift and also worked some overtime hours when requested to do so. Upon returning to work after the injury, Lionel was advised that overtime was no longer available due to a downturn in the economy. While Lionel’s return to work hourly wage was the same as it had been before the injury, he was no longer working overtime so his paychecks were smaller. Lionel filed a petition before a Workers Compensation Judge seeking payment of partial disability benefits due to his current loss of earnings.
QUESTION: Is Lionel entitled to payment of partial disability benefits?
ANSWER: Not necessarily. Typically, in order to have his suspended benefits reinstated, Lionel had to prove that his earning power was again adversely affected by the injury that formed the basis of his original claim. With sufficient evidence to prove that Lionel’s loss of earnings was attributable to something other than his work injury (such as economic circumstances), Lionel’s reinstatement may be denied. Lionel’s medical release to return to work without restriction will assist XYZ in demonstrating that Lionel’s loss in earnings was not caused by disability arising from the work-related injury, but by economic circumstances. In light of these circumstances, XYZ will likely be able to prevail and the request for payment of partial benefits will likely fail.
If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at [email protected] or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.