The availability of light duty work, and the obligation of the employer to provide it after a work injury, is an issue in New Hampshire. There are a number of reasons for this. However, the main reason is that in NH, the employer must have a temporary alternative duty plan and hearings to terminate benefits. As a top NH lawyer for workers’ compensation, our team at Feniger, Uliasz & Stacey understand the ins and outs, and how frustrating it can be to obtain the work legally due to you.
Here, we talk more about New Hampshire regulations and what you should understand when dealing with a workers’ compensation claim.
In New Hampshire, there is a regulation that requires employers to have a plan to bring injured employees back to work on light duty. The process is called Temporary Alternative Duty, and it is designed as a transitional process to get you back to work. By starting light and working up to the job you did when you were injured, your employee is obligated to develop temporary alternative work opportunities for injured parties.
The regulation requires that the employer provide a detailed description of the alternative duty to your doctor for approval. The employer may do this by sending the plan to your doctor or giving it to you to ask your doctor whether you are cleared to perform the light duty job. In the latter, you have an obligation to both bring the job description to your doctor for approval and, if approved, perform the light duty job.
The process can be confusing and sometimes hard to obtain doctor participation. So, when you are approached by the insurance adjuster or the nurse case manager about Temporary Alternative Duty, it is a good time to speak with a NH workers’ compensation lawyer.
What if there is no alternative duty plan in place?
What if your employer doesn’t have a temporary alternative duty plan in place? Or, what if there is an alternative duty but you can’t do it?
If your employer does not have light duty available for you then you continue to receive wage benefits. However, this does not stop the insurance company from requesting a hearing to reduce or stop your benefits.
If the employer offers temporary alternative duty and you refuse to accept it, the insurance company will request a hearing. Once your doctor releases you to some level of work the insurance company can claim a change in your medical condition sufficient to trigger a hearing – even if there isn’t alternative duty. Sometimes they will ask for an administrative termination, which is asking to stop your benefits without a hearing. If this happens, consult a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
When an insurance company asks to stop paying your benefits you will get a copy of the letter. When you receive a termination letter, a NH workers’ compensation lawyer becomes essential because, more often than not, at this time the insurance carrier has generally hired a lawyer of its own.
Their lawyer will know the rules and procedures, you should too.
NH Workers Compensation Lawyer | Feniger, Uliasz & Stacey
If you have been receiving workers’ compensation benefits and the conversation turns to temporary alternative duty, or you receive a letter from the NH Department of Labor requesting permission to terminate your benefits or to schedule a hearing, contact the lawyers at Feniger, Uliasz & Stacey at 603-627-5997. You will get to speak to an experienced NH workers’ compensation lawyer who can decide the best approach for your case.