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Working after a Workers Compensation Knee Injury5 minute read

When you have a serious workers compensation knee injury, the recovery after that injury can be difficult.  Often, you need surgery and extended physical therapy.  Your knee injury will likely severely limit what you can do while you recover.

  • How do you deal with working while you are recovering from a knee injury?
  • What should you do about returning to work if your knee does not completely recover?
  • What if your employer does not want to bring you back to work or keep your job available?

These are just a few of the questions that you may have after you suffer a knee injury.  This article will discuss how the workers compensation laws in Georgia affect your recovery and what happens if you return to work or are unable to return after an injury.

Doctor examining womans kneeCan I keep working after a workers compensation knee injury?

Georgia’s workers compensation law does allow you to keep working after a knee injury.  To find out whether you should keep working or not, you will need to consult with a doctor.

When you suffer an injury at work, your employer should provide you with medical treatment through workers compensation.  In addition to diagnosing and treating your injury, your workers compensation treating doctor should make recommendations about whether you should work or not.

The workers compensation doctor’s recommendation generally fall into three categories:

  1. No work
  2. Work with some sort of restrictions or limitations
  3. Capable of performing regular duty work without restrictions

If your doctors has you on a “no work status”, then you probably should not be working.  The workers compensation insurance company should be paying you temporary total disability benefits while you are out of work.

If your doctor says that you can work without restrictions and you feel capable of doing that as well, then continuing to work could be a good option.

What should you do if your doctor puts you on work restrictions?

Work restrictions come in many different forms.  Many doctors offices use general restrictions similar to the physical exertion categories used by the Department of Labor in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.  These fall into five basic categories of work capacity:

  1. Sedentary
  2. Light
  3. Medium
  4. Heavy
  5. Very Heavy

Each category has different physical requirements associated with it, but the primary one is lifting and carrying.  A sedentary job is one that generally involves the last amount of lifting and carrying (not more than 10 pounds occasionally).  A very heavy job involves the most lifting and carrying.

Knee injuries often cause restrictions on lifting and standing.  You should fall into a sedentary job category if you need to sit most of the time.

In addition to these limitations, knee injuries may also restrict your ability to climb, squat, kneel and do other activities.  You should make sure your doctor addresses any work limitations you have in the paper documenting your work restrictions.

Does my employer have to offer me a light duty job after knee surgery?

No.  Georgia’s workers compensation law does not require that your employer offer you a light duty job.  They can choose to not bring you back to work.  If your employer does not offer you a light duty job, the workers compensation insurance company should pay you temporary total disability benefits.

Other areas of the law may require that your employer try to accommodate your work restrictions.  One area of the law that may cover you is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)  If you qualify for protection under it, the American with Disabilities Act might require your employer to provide accommodations.

What happens if my employer offers me a light duty job and I refuse to return to work?

Georgia workers compensation law has special rules about offers of light duty jobs and what happens when you accept or refuse them.  These rules make this area a particularly complicated area of the law.

If you refuse a suitable light duty job offer from your employer, your weekly workers compensation check could be suspended.  If this happens, getting your check restarted may be difficult.

You also need to know about the special rules that apply when you attempt a light duty job.  These rules affect whether your benefits will automatically be restarted if you attempt the light duty job but then cannot perform it.  This article I wrote discusses those special rules in detail.

Mechanic suffering from knee injury wearing hardhat

What should I do if I get fired because of my knee injury?

There are also special rules that apply to your workers compensation case if your employer fires you.  Which rules apply will depend on why your employer fired you.

If your employer fires you because of your knee injury, the workers compensation insurance company should start paying you temporary total disability benefits.  But, most employers will not admit that they fired you because you got hurt.

So, you will likely have to find some other way of proving that you should get workers compensation benefits after you are fired.  This usually involves proving that your doctor says that you cannot work at all or proving in court that you have work restrictions and cannot find a job somewhere else because of those restrictions.

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.

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