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Why do I have to look for work while I am on Light Duty and still injured?

Why do I have to look for work while I am on Light Duty and still injured?
by Nick Wearne, Associate Attorney
Snow, Carpio & Weekley, P.L.L.C.
If you are injured at work and the insurance company accepts your claim you will begin to receive active medical care.  Active medical care is treatment designed to get you better.  Active treatment may include anything from major surgery to physical therapy.  Obviously your ability to work during your treatment will vary depending on your treatment and the requirements of your job.  After a major surgery you will probably be unable to work at all.  But several weeks later, while your receive physical therapy, you may be able to do some light duty work.
In Arizona, it is expected that you will work once the doctor has released you to light duty.  If you do not have a job, it is expected that you will look for one.  While very few companies if any will be willing to hire you for light duty work, it is expected that you will at least look for such work.  We advise all of our clients to reach out to their employer once they are released to light duty asking for work.  We advise clients to do this in writing and to keep a copy of the email or letter.  If the company refuses to give you light duty work we advise our clients to go out and apply for 2-3 jobs a week and to keep a log of such job applications.
Why do you have to do this?
The reasoning behind this expectation that you will at least look for work is that by working you will mitigate your damages.  To mitigate means to lessen or to make less severe.  When you are injured at work you are entitled to a percentage of your wages for time lost from work.  If you happen to find light duty work you mitigate or lessen what the company owes you in lost wages.
Does my work have to let me work while I am on Light Duty?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.  While you are legally obligated to make yourself available to do light duty work, the company is not legally obligated to let you work. Again, we recommend informing your employer that you are available for light duty work in writing and making a copy of the letter.

If you or somebody you know has been injured on the job or is disabled and unable to work, call Snow, Carpio & Weekley for a free consultation. We service the entire State of Arizona and can be reached at 855-325-4781. You may also visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com

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