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Workers Compensation Light Duty after an Ankle Injury

Many people get frustrated with foot and ankle injuries.  I suffered many ankle injuries while playing basketball.  These injuries made it difficult for me to stand and walk while I recovered.

Many jobs require standing and walking or other activities that are difficult or impossible to do after a foot or ankle injury.  When an injury at work keeps you out of work or limits what you can earn, you may be entitled to workers compensation wage loss benefits.

These benefits are one of the three primary benefits provided by Georgia’s workers compensation law.

What sort of work activities are affected by foot and ankle injuries?

Foot and ankle injury with walking boot and crutches A serious foot or ankle injury can affect any activity which requires you to use your legs.  Here are some common activities that I see people have difficulty performing:

Walking and standing

While some jobs allow you to sit or stand, many jobs require you to spend a lot of time on your feet.   Most people with foot and ankle injuries have difficulty standing or walking for an extended period of time.


Some jobs require you to climb stairs or ladders frequently.  A foot and ankle injury makes it difficult and potentially unsafe to go up and down stairs or ladders.


If your job requires you to work at heights, you need to be sure that you can keep your balance to avoid falling.  A foot or ankle injury often makes it dangerous to work at heights.


Proper lifting technique usually requires you to use your legs.  Heavy lifting could be difficult with a foot or ankle injury.  If a job requires you to carry a heavy item, it could cause additional problems since carrying really combines walking and lifting.  Also, improper lifting and carrying might cause you additional injury.

What happens if I cannot do my job because of restrictions from my injury?

After a workers compensation injury, you should receive medical evaluation and treatment.  You may want to see a foot and ankle specialist.  Georgia’s workers compensation law has rules about what doctors you can treat with for your injury, and you will want to get a copy of your employer’s panel of physicians.

The workers compensation doctor will probably place you on some restrictions.  There is a good chance that the doctor may restrict you from performing standing, walking, climbing, balancing, or lifting.

If your doctor says you cannot do these activities and your regular job requires you to do them, then you will probably not be able to return to your regular job.  In that case, one of two things will likely happen:

  1. Your employer will offer you a light duty job, or
  2. Your employer will send you home because they do not have suitable light duty work.

If your employer offers you a light duty job, you will want to make sure that it is suitable to your restrictions.  If not, then you will probably need to address this.

You will also want to know whether the light duty job will pay you as much as you made before.  If it does not, you will probably be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits.

If your employer sends you home because they do not have suitable light duty work, then you should start receiving temporary total disability benefits.  This article talks more about temporary total disability benefits including how long the insurance company has to start paying them.

Do I have to go back to work after a foot or ankle injury?

No.  You do not have to go back to work.  But, refusing to go back to a suitable job can affect your entitlement to workers compensation benefits.

The primary situation where you would need to return to work is when your employer offers you a suitable job.  Georgia’s workers compensation law has special rules about light duty job offers.  These rules usually provide you with a trial return to work period.  They also address whether you will continue to receive workers compensation benefits depending on how your return to work goes.

The light duty job rules can be some of the most confusing rules in Georgia’s workers compensation law.  I see many situations where people’s workers compensation benefits get stopped because they refuse to return to work or because of what happens after they try to return to work.  I always recommend that someone have a consultation with a workers compensation attorney when they face a light duty job offer.

Can I fight about the light duty job offer if the job is not suitable?

Yes.  Georgia’s workers compensation law provides opportunities to contest the suitability of a light duty job provided by your employer.  Workers compensation judges generally have the final say on whether a light duty job is suitable.

But, the important thing to understand is that the special light duty rules I mentioned above will determine what happens while you are waiting to go to court and get a decision from a workers compensation judge.  If you do not fully understand these rules, you could have to wait many months without receiving workers compensation checks while you wait on a decision from a judge.

Can I go back to work with a different company after my injury?

Yes.  You can go back to work with a different company.  But, you should be aware of how it could affect your case.

One thing that will happen if you go back to work is that your workers compensation wage loss benefits will stop or get reduced.  Your earnings at the new company will be counted against your wage loss.

Also, the special light duty job rules I mentioned above will probably not apply to you attempting a light duty job with a different company.  This means that it will be much more difficult to try to get your workers compensation checks restarted if you cannot continue doing the light duty job.

Doctor examines patients sprained foot while holding x ray One other thing that usually happens if you go back to work with a different company is that your workers compensation case gets more complicated.  The workers compensation insurance company may try to argue that your new job is making your injury worse.  This can lead to delays in approval of medical treatment and could likely result in you having to go to court about your case.

There is one special situation where you can continue working at a job without having it count against you which is known as concurrent dissimilar employment.  The idea behind this situation is that your concurrent dissimilar employment earnings are not counted for you in what workers compensation pays you so they should not be counted against you when you are able to continue that job.

But, concurrent dissimilar employment is a very confusing area of the law because your earnings do count against you if you return to concurrent similar employment.  The best thing to do in this situation is to consult with an attorney and get answers before you return to work to make sure and avoid the problems that returning to work can cause.

What happens if I have permanent restrictions that prevent me from going back to work?

Unfortunately, serious foot and ankle injuries often cause permanent limitations.  You might not be able to do a job that requires you to be on your feet much.  You could need to avoid climbing or working at heights.

If your workers compensation injury causes permanent restrictions that prevent you from going back to work, then the insurance company should keep paying you temporary total disability benefits.  But, Georgia law limits how long you can receive these benefits.  Also, the insurance company can often reduce the amount of your benefit check over time.

In most cases, the longest that you can receive temporary total disability benefits is 400 weeks from when your injury occurs.  In other words, your temporary total disability benefits will stop at 400 weeks from your injury even if your injury still keeps you from working.  The one major exception to this is a catastrophic designation.

In many cases, the insurance company can reduce the amount of your check sooner if you are drawing more than the maximum temporary partial disability benefit by filing a Form WC-104.  This form may allow the insurance company to reduce your check amount.  Also, it allows them to reduce the time limit for how long you can receive checks to 350 weeks from your date of injury.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

It took me probably too long to finally get a lawyer when my work comp claim started and I had no idea what I should do. I read reviews and upon recommendation of several people started the process of getting a lawyer. I am fortunate and lucky to have come across Perkins Studdard. Jason and his team has taken care of me since the moment I first called them and made sure any and all questions I had were answered as well as working hard to get me my settlement so I can continue receiving treatment. If you're looking for a good law firm to represent you in your worker's compensation case I would highly highly recommend this one.Autumn Fields
I highly recommend Perkins Law Firm. Throughout the whole process Perkins team kept me updated and explained everything very well. I am very pleased with their work. You will not be disappointed!!trina flornce
Mr. Perkins and team...Tina* they have all been so awesome. Always available to talk to me with any concerns. Kept me informed on my case all the way. Greatly appreciated!Missy Cherry
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team! -BrittneyBrittney-lee orourke
This law firm is very good at what it does the staff and the lawyer's that were involved with my case all were very perfesional and curious I couldn't ask for a better law firm I want to thank everyone for a great job thanks Les RyanLeslie Ryan
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.China Jones
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.Luv Locs
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law. They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns. I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls. I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.moombi
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.Dana Bess
Great staff and very knowlegable. They treat you like family and work hard to get you what you need. Highly recommended.Josh Carter

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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